1. What is MOM?
The “Media Ownership Monitor” (MOM) has been developed as a mapping tool in order to create a publicly available, continuously updated database that lists owners of all relevant mass media outlets (press, radio, television sectors and online media).
MOM aims to shed light on the risks to media pluralism caused by media ownership concentration (for more information: Methodology). In order to grasp the national characteristics and detect risk-enhancing or risk-reducing factors for media concentration, MOM also qualitatively assesses the market conditions and legal environment.
2. Who is behind MOM?
MOM has been proposed and launched by Reporter ohne Grenzen e. V. – the German section of the international human rights organization Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières, RSF), that aims to defend freedom of the press and the right to inform and be informed anywhere in the world.
In Ukraine, RSF cooperates with the Institute of Mass Information.
The project is funded by the Federal German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ).
3. Why is transparency of media ownership important?
Media pluralism is a key aspect of democratic societies as only free, independent, and diverse media is capable of reflecting divergent viewpoints and allowingconstructive criticism of people in power. Risks to diversity of ideas are caused by media market concentration, when only a few players exert dominant influence on public opinion and raise entrance barriers for other players and perspectives (i.e. media ownership concentration). The prerequisite for lowering these risks is transparencyin media ownership. Thus we need toask such questions as:How can people evaluate the reliability of information, if they don´t know who provides it? How can journalistic ethics be respected when the journalists don´t know who controls the company they work for? And how can authorities effectively address excessive media concentration, if the owners remain in the shadows?
MOM thus promotes transparencyin media ownership and attempts to answer the question “who eventually controls the media content?” in order to raise public awareness; to create a fact base for advocacy; to hold political and economic players accountable for the existing conditions; and to support the government initiatives in tackling media concentration.
4. What kind of concentration control does MOM suggest?
MOM does not make normative statements – it does not suggest how to control media ownership. The most appropriate and efficient form of media concentration control depends on the country context, the existing legal and market conditions, the ownership landscape.
MOM is a transparency tool to stimulate a democratic discussion on media pluralism in particular andon good governance in general: we believe that open access to adequate information and broad consultations can improve the decision-making processand better reflect people’s concerns and ideals.
5. How is data collected?
a) Official data sources, and/or sources with a high level of reliability and trust are prioritised.
b) In cases when information was not publicly available, it was directly requested from media companies, political representatives and research institutes.
c) In order to guarantee and verify the objective evaluation, MOM works with its advisory group that provides comments and consultations throughout the research process. It is composed of national specialists with a substantial knowledge and experience in media and communications.
d) Advisory group of MOM Ukraine:
- Mariana Zakusylo, Detektor Media
- Valeriy Ivanov, Academy of Ukrainian Press
- OleksandrDyachenko, Ukrainian Association of Media businesses
- Andreas Umland, Institute for Euroatlantic Cooperation
e) All decisions on how data is selected, which sources are used - and which are not - are clearly indicated on the website of MOM in Ukraine for each media outlet, each owner and also generally under the FAQs for Ukraine.
6. How is the "most relevant media" defined?
The main question is: which media outlets influence the opinion-forming process? In order to scan all relevant media, we included all traditional media types (Print, Radio, TV, Online).
The media were selected according to the following criteria:
MOM focuses on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share. The selection for the Monitor is based on recent media consumption surveys and audience research studies.
For MOM we select media with socio-political and economic content, that has impact on public opinion. Content should have a national focus; however, world-wide broadcasting news outlets are excluded, as they do not target the national audience specifically (e.g. Al Jazeera). Media with specific thematic focus (music, sport), social networks, search engines and advertisement are also excluded.
7. How are the media outlets selected?
The media were selected according to the following criteria:
MOM focuses on media with the highest reach, measured by audience share. The selection for the Monitor is based on recent media consumption surveys and audience research studies:
o TV. The audience share for TV was easily accessible via Television Industry Committee (TIC) website, due to the fact that TV industry is rather institutionalized and more regulated. TIC commissioned Nielsen Ukraine to produce the audience research, therefore it is the property of TIC. The data is calculated for programmes that run 5 and more minutes on a monthly basis. As the audience is measured monthly we have calculated the average audience share for the period of January – July 2016. The sample includes individuals between the ages 18 and 54, in cities with population of 50+ thousand people. Out of 37 national TV channels in the audience rating, we have identified only 12 that qualified as channels that present information which is relevant to the political and socio-economic developments of the country, along with the usual heavy entertainment segment. Additionally, MOM considered some TV channels with heavy infotainment content for the analysis at first, which were later excluded. Although such channels as TET and 2+2 have a large audience and infotainment does have an influence on public opinion, the team decided to focus on outlets with socio-political and economic content, that has impact on public opinion and included only channels that broadcast at least some news.
o Radio. The audience data was calculatedby TNS. The data was obtained from the website of Retro FM, which made the audience data available on its website as it occupies the third place in the rating.
o Print. Print media audience data was the most difficult to obtain. In addition to difficulties related to measuring the readership, newspapers have a tendency of exaggerating the circulation of print issues in order to attract more ads. We base our selection of top 10 print media outlets on the survey conducted by TNS Ukraine during the 4 quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. 15.046 people were surveyed aged between 12 and 65 in cities with the population of more than 50.000 people. Crimean republic was excluded from the study. TNS Ukraine provided MOM with the average issue rating of all news issues in the country.
o Internet. Multiple rankings for online media are available – but inconsistent. There are two major online platforms measuring the digital content: liveinternet and bigmir. Both only calculate visitors of the websites that have installed a respective calculator of either of the platforms– thusfor those websites that pay to be listed in their rankings. This data is not only inconsistent but also not independent. Instead, MOM obtained information about Internet audience from Factum Group that allowed calculating a mean for audience in January-July 2016. Their ranking is comprised of news sources which generate own content. The study measures on a monthly basis people who visit the sources at least once a month, the users that visit the sources multiple times are still calculated only once. 5000 people are surveyed all across Ukraine aged above 15. The company considers an online resource a media is if it is run by an editorial team.
Regional vs National divide. During the initial stages of the research the team was confronted with the regional vs national divide. Ukrainian media landscape has its specificities. Regional media markets are under researched and would be a fertile ground for projects like MOM. There is a strong distinction between regional and national broadcasters. Experts suggest that regional media landscapes in Ukraine would show greater media concentration both horizontally, vertically and acrosssectors. Unfortunately, due to the limitations in time and human resources the team was not able to extend the research to the regional media. However, the methodology is reproducible and it is advisable for further such mapping exercises to focus on the regions of Ukraine.
8. How are the countries selected?
MOM was developed as a generic methodology which can be universally applied. Although media concentration trends are observable worldwide, implementation and analysis will first take place in developing countries. Besides, the Media Pluralism Monitor delivers complementary results for European member states.
In the selection process, the country ranking in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters without Borders is the first important indicator for a problematic relation to media pluralism, media independence and transparency. A low ranking highlights which country being worth looking in depth into the risk of media ownership concentration.
The political context is also a condition for a successful implementation: on the one hand civil society organizations such as our local partners need to be able tooperate relatively freely. On the other hand, the media landscape needs to be open to a certain extent: in a country where the state exercises absolutecontrol over media, media ownership research would be irrelevant.
9. Does the MOM only exist for Ukraine?
10. What are the limitations of the study?
The Ukrainian research team was confronted with diverse obstacles at the data-collecting stage to measure media concentration. The most common problems include:
· Audience data is not consistent and difficult to access: information on audience share is fragmented,notstandardized and there is no obligation to publish those data. It is commercial information that is usually collected by private companies upon request, and sold to media companies that base their advertising rates on it. Media outlets purchase market data, and they might chooseto make it public when theyappear at the top-5.In Ukraine MOM acquired audience data from different sources that were considered as most independent, most recent, and most representative (Read more: link to How is media selected?).
· No economic data: Market concentration based on market share cannot or can only partially be calculated since complete and credible numbers are not publicly available.In Ukraine such information is typicallynot disclosedand considered a “commercial secret”.
11. Who do we target?
The data base of MOM in Ukraine:
· allows each citizen to get informed on the media system in general and in Ukraine in particular;
· creates a fact base for civil society’s advocacy efforts to further promote public consciousness on media ownership and concentration in Ukraine and to use it in other post-Soviet countries;
· is a point of reference for consulting competition authorities or governmental bodies when establishing suitable regulatory measures to safeguard media pluralism.
12. What happens next?
The database is a snapshot of the current situation in Ukraine, contextualized by historical facts of the country. Itis designed with the goal to be updated further by the Institute for Mass Information and the Ukrainian civil society in general.
After the roll-out in further countries, an international ranking on the level of media ownership concentration will be established, similar to the Ranking of Press Freedom by Reporters Without Borders.
13. Are there similar projects?
There have been projects similar to MOM in varying degrees. Thus, on European level, the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF) at the European University Institute (EUI) conducts the “Media Pluralism Monitor” (MPM). The EU-funded MPM identifies threats to such pluralism based on a broader set of indicators, covering legal, economic and socio-cultural considerations, taking media ownership concentration only as one of six dimensions. It assesses risks for media pluralism in the EU Member States.
Generally, people believe that it is not a secret who owns what in Ukraine, but these are often based on rumours which our study cannot consider. However, there is a considerable body of research conducted on the topic in Ukraine:
· Media Ownership Project conducted by OCCRP. Available from: https://www.reportingproject.net/media/author/Ukraine/
· Media OwndershipMap.conducted by MediaLab. Available from: http://www.map.medialab.online/?open=13
· Internet Ownership Project conducted by OCCRP. Available from: www.reportingproject.net/internetownership/
Besides, there have been some articles written on the media ownership transparency in Ukraine, that can be found in the library (link to library).
· Dutsyk, D. 2010. ‘Media Ownership Structure in Ukraine: Political Aspect’. Retreived from: http://www.rundfunk-institut.uni-koeln.de/sites/rundfunk/Tagungen/Tagung2010Cologne/Dutsyk_e.pdf (10.08.2016)
· Allen, C. 2016. ‘Who owns Ukraine's media?’, Aljazeera. Retrieved from: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2016/04/owns-ukraine-media-160405130121777.html (10.08.2016).
· IMI & GFK. 2016. Analysis of Media Situation in Southern and Eastern Oblasts of Ukraine.Available from: https://www.gfk.com/fileadmin/user_upload/dyna_content/UA/2_news-2016/Report_Media-poll_in_Six_Oblasts_ENG.pdf (10.08.2016).
· Dovzhenko, O. 2015. Media After Maidan.Available from: https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/otar-dovzhenko/media-in-ukraine-set-free-to-be-slaves (10.08.2016).
· KAS. 2015. Ukrainian Media Landscape.Available from: http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_23004-1522-2-30.pdf?110603134311 (10.08.2016).
· 2008. ‘Who owns Ukraine?’, Telekritika. Available from:http://www.telekritika.ua/daidzhest/2008-12-22/42800 (10.08.2016).