Digitalising India: From A National to A Comparative Case for Policy Analysis

TitleDigitalising India: From A National to A Comparative Case for Policy Analysis
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Parthasarathi, V.
Affiliation (1st Author)Jamia Millia Islamia University
Section or WGCommunication Policy and Technology
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeCPTT4a
Slot Code (Keyword)CPTT4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
RoomQG13
Session TitlePANEL The Open Society Foundation's Mapping Digital Media Initiative: Global Communications Research to Support Policymaking
Submission ID5645
Abstract

Panel: The Open Society Foundation’s Mapping Digital Media Initiative: Global Communications Research to Support Policymaking
The Mapping Digital Media project on India indicates how the country can be viewed as a policy-making laboratory. With 200 satellite news channels in 12 languages, anywhere from 700 to 900 million active mobile connections and third largest Facebook user-base, India stands as an important case for comparative studies.Amidst the sheer multiplicity and linguistic variety of TV outlets, which is often misconstrued for diversity, the immediate terrain of comparative studies is internal – i.e. between various language/regional media markets of India, some of which larger than many European, African and East Asian countries'. From a policy perspective, the most crucial internal comparison is definitely between the two digitalisations underway in India – the digitalisation of terrestrial transmission of the state broadcaster, and that of wired distribution in the long-tailed cable industry in the private sector. But there is much for international comparative studies, as well. On the one hand, there are "classical dynamics" that comparative policy analysts approciate, be it the intimate enmeshing of political parties and media interests, or the highly guided formalisation of capital, labour and technology in the television distribution segment. On the other hand, typically "Indian scenarios may baffle the same scholars: the incessant marginalization of public service broadcasting while it continues to receive investment and debt-waivers from the public exchequer. Or the nonexistent cross-media and concentration protocols which either conjure the "wild-west" past of television in some industrialised countries or the future of many others reeling under neo-liberal reforms.Using India as an example, this contribution aims at highlighting the oportunities and challenges of comparative mapping efforts such as MDMand their policy-relevance. The core argument is that here is something for all comparative scholarship willing to let go of theoretical preconceptions -- as  in the Indian policy environment the stick can easily be mistaken for the snake.

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