Breaking News: A Case Study of the Indian Media Industry

Historical Evolution of the Indian News Media

By most accounts, the Indian Media Industry is one of the world’s most diverse and vibrant in addition to being largely free and fair. The Indian Media has had a long and chequered history starting from the pre-Independence days and including the post independence and the socialist days and extending to the post liberalization and the consequent explosion in the number of media outlets.

Indeed, if not anything, liberalization of the Indian Economy in the 1990s has had the effect of liberating Indian mindsets and exposing them to Western modes of consumption and lifestyles. This in turn had an impact on the way Indians consumed new and the result was that the Indian Media landscape changed dramatically with the advent of Satellite Television which was further boosted by the emergence of the Internet in the New Millennium.

Thus, the Indian Media has come a long way and is now in a position where it has moved beyond news reporting and has taken on the mantle of agenda setting as well as steering the direction of governmental policies.

While at times, many media outlets seem partisan and polarized, it is also the case that the Indian Media by and large have been independent and unbiased in their news coverage.

Notable Aspects of the Indian News Media Industry

A distinctive feature of the Indian Media Industry is the resilience and indeed, flourishing of print media outlets.

In other words, newspapers have not only withstood the vagaries of time, but India is the world’s largest market for print media wherein unlike the West, where newspaper readership is disappearing and dwindling, the situation in India is the opposite, where it is actually growing.

This speaks volumes about the composition of the Indian Consumer base wherein readers want the analysis and the spin as much as they enjoy the breaking news phenomenon of mainstream Television media.

Indeed, no discussion on the Indian Media is complete without referring to the trend of Real Time and Instantaneous reporting or the Breaking News factor wherein viewers at any point in the day and at any instant of the news cycle can tune in and be updated on the latest happenings in the country as well as the world.

As the title of this case study indicates, Breaking News is perhaps the one singular defining characteristic of the New Media such as TV and Online where news nuts are constantly fed on a diet of uninterrupted live coverage of events around the world as they happen.

Some Worrying Developments

Talking about online media, the profusion of online media outlets concomitant with the Internet Revolution means that the Indian Media houses found another way or a medium to reach out to the consumers.

Indeed, if not anything, online outlets indicate the Third Wave of change as far as the Indian Media are concerned with Print and TV being the first and second waves respectively. Having said that, one must also caution the readers that the advent of the Internet and the Smartphone also resulted in what is known as Fake News or Post Truth coverage wherein facts and data are given the short shrift and whatever one wants to believe in passes off as news.

PESTEL Analysis


Among all the external forces that impact the Indian Media Industry, this is perhaps the most significant in terms of how it forces media houses to either fall in line or be left out. To explain, governments worldwide seek to influence news coverage and engage in media manipulation, and India is no exception.

Indeed, whichever party is in power, they seek to manage the media to change the way in which voters perceive them by persuading media houses to toe the party line. Moreover, in the present times, there are very few neutral media houses left with most of them allied to one particular political dispensation or the other.

In addition, the fact that politicians can also invoke national security concerns to influence news reporting means that this aspect exerts a strong influence in the way the Indian Media Industry works.


The changing economic composition of the Indian Consumer base means that concomitant changes in media consumption lead to this factor exerting a moderate to strong influence in the way the Indian Media Industry works.

For instance, as mentioned earlier, the liberalization of the Indian Economy in the 1990s lead to consumerism taking root in the country. In turn, this changed the way in which news is consumed and the emergence of the Great Indian Middle Class meant that trends such as Page 3 coverage of social dos and parties hosted by the rich and famous replaced coverage of poverty and inequality.

Indeed, Indian Media houses, like their Western counterparts became heavily profit driven leading to packaging of content as products that can be consumed instead of news being reported.


By Western standards, the Indian Media Industry stays on the technological curve as can be seen from the latest tech innovations finding their way into newsrooms. While in earlier decades, the Indian Media was slow to adapt to changing technological trends, in recent years, they are ahead of the curve as far as technology is concerned. In addition, the emergence of the Internet and the Smartphone revolutions meant that newer technologies upended the news media forcing them to either adapt or be left behind.

Indeed, Indian consumers also play a part in this by migrating to those newspapers and TV channels as well as Internet Sites that are technologically advanced thereby ensuring that the Indian Media has to be tech savvy to remain in contention.


While Environmental concerns used to play an important role in the Indian Media Industry especially as far as newspapers were concerned since they are printed on paper, the advent of TV and the Internet have minimized the extent to which this factor can influence the way the Indian Media houses operate.


In addition to the political forces impacting the Indian Media Industry, legal problems in terms of defamation suits and other legal actions are now routine leading to Indian media houses either brazing it out in the face of legal threats or simply not inviting legal action by playing it safe.

Indeed, the tendency to file legal cases as well as the weak defamation laws in place means that most media houses are nonchalant or even brazen in their coverage under the assumption and the comfort that it is easy to get away and hence, they have nothing to fear.

Porter’s Five Forces Analysis

Power of Suppliers

The Indian Media Industry is dependent on a wide variety of suppliers including paper suppliers in case of print media, stringers, and video journalists in case of TV, and web hosting services in case of digital.

Considering the fact that such a diverse base of suppliers cannot exert much power in the absence of organized supplier groups, the power of suppliers is indeed moderate at best and weak at worst.

Having said that, some media houses are indeed under pressure from key suppliers such as printers and content producers as can be seen from the numerous instances of arm twisting by suppliers as mentioned as well as TV distributors and channel and cable operators.

Power of Buyers

In any media industry worldwide, there is always intense competition from such outlets for the eyeballs and the hearts and minds of the readers and viewers. The Indian Media Industry is no exception and what is more remarkable is that the viewers are spoiled for choice since there are potentially unlimited channels as well as newspapers in addition to online news outlets.

Indeed, it can be said that among all the forces that exert influence over the Indian Media Industry, this is the strongest since buyers hold the power or the TV remote which gives them major influence over the type of content that is being beamed.

This is evidenced by the near scramble and the mad rush to garner TRPs (Television Rating Points) as well as subscriber figures for print media as media houses compete with each other in a bid for market leadership and dominance.

Competitive Rivalry

Continuing the point made above, there is intense competitive rivalry as far as the Indian Media Industry is concerned since the number of media outlets across the spectrum means that they do have to be on their toes for market space.

Indeed, perhaps the Indian Media Industry is unique among the worldwide peers as far as the intensity of market rivalry is concerned. This is because of the diverse linguistic and regional variations apart from the English and the Hindi Media which means that establishing a Pan India presence for media outlets requires immense resources not to leave out the complexity of managing such ventures and conglomerates.

Thus, taken together with the power of the consumers, competitive rivalry ensures that the Indian Media space is very choosy about the choices available to the consumers.

Ease of Entry and Exit

While the Entry barriers are quite low since it does not take much upfront investment to launch a newspaper, a TV channel, or an online outlet, as mentioned earlier, the intense competition ensures that only the ones with the most resources and the organizational depth needed to manage such complexity indicates that while it is easy to setup a media outlet at the same time, it is very difficult to survive the neck tight competition.

Threat of Substitutes

Indian news consumers have a variety of options before them as far as choosing between media channels and outlets are concerned.

Having said that, there are no ready substitutes which mean that established media houses have immense clout over their consumer and viewer base. Indeed, this is the paradox at the heart of the Indian Media Industry wherein large media houses are virtual monopolies whereas startup and upcoming outlets do have to be innovative and inventive to simply survive in the media jungle.

This is the reason why many outlets do enter the market but fall by the wayside as the Indian reader or viewer is highly brand loyal.


As can be seen from the preceding analysis, the Indian Media and in particular, the Indian News Media is at inflection point where the choices it makes now would determine the future directions of the sector.

While intense competition for readers and viewers through subscription figures and TRPs as well as eyeballs is good, it should not lead to a situation where in the pursuit of such profit making activities, facts are given the go by.

In other words, the blind pursuit of profits must not be at the expense of its main reason for existence which is being a gatekeeper of truth and disseminator of valuable news and information.

Indeed, as discussed in the section related to worrying developments, the Indian News Media seems to be failing the basic function of being a custodian of democracy by reporting news and views as the demands of fairness and impartiality are concerned. Instead, what passes off for news is simply advertorials where paid news dominates.

This is indeed a sad state of affairs given the rich history and legacy of the pioneers of Indian Journalism. To conclude, it is the hope and the work done by the Indian Media Industry that should ultimately keep it going despite recent trends that indicate otherwise.

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