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International Media Development

Historical Perspectives and New Frontiers


Edited By Nicholas Benequista, Susan Abbott, Paul Rothman and Winston Mano

This collection is the first of its kind on the topic of media development. It brings together luminary thinkers in the field—both researchers and practitioners—to reflect on how advocacy groups, researchers, the international community and others can work to ensure that media can continue to serve as a force of democracy and development. But that mission faces considerable challenges. Media development paradigms are still too frequently associated with Western prejudices, or out of touch with the digital age. As we move past Western blueprints and into an uncertain digital future, what does media development mean? If we are to act meaningfully to shape the future of our increasingly mediated societies, we must answer this question.

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Chapter Fourteen: India’s Media Development Seesaw: Advancement and Vulnerability in the World’s Largest Democracy (Savyasaachi Jain)


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India’s Media Development Seesaw

Advancement and Vulnerability in the World’s Largest Democracy


It is perhaps impossible to provide a simple answer to the question of whether the Indian media system is a “developed” media system or not. By some yardsticks, it outpaces most others. At the same time, it demonstrably does not perform well along many other measures associated with the term “media development.” This is perhaps to be expected, for it is difficult to unambiguously map the elements of media development to the realities of Indian media.

The Indian media system is a loose conglomerate of about two dozen linguistic sub-systems, distinguished by language, political and historical contexts, but linked by overlapping ownership, structures, and audiences, as well as common legal and regulatory frameworks. Within each sub-system there is a full range of practices and scales of operation. Its internal structures and processes are byzantine and often opaque, making it more difficult to characterize than any other national media system. On the other side of the equation, the term media development is also a multipart concept that encompasses a range of indicators, assumptions, and values. And of course the term is used in different ways at different times and places. Answering the basic question about the state of development of the Indian media system requires the complexity on either side to be unpacked. This essay draws upon my earlier research...

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