Hard way to transparency
Generally speaking, obtaining the information necessary for this project was not easy. There is no state organization or a private entity which gathers media company and business data, as occurs in Colombia through the Bogota Chamber of Commerce.
The most straightforward case was that of the El Comercio Group because its parent company, the Empresa Editora El Comercio S.A., is listed on the Lima Stock Exchange (BVL). Any company listed on the BVL must present a series of documents, such as the Annual Report of the latest financial activities, the company´s financial information, the relationships between shareholders, the current board, the relationship between companies linked to the group, among others. It is the only group investigated which is listed on the stock exchange.
In other cases it was necessary to visit the National Superintendency of Public Registries (SUNARP), the state entity whose job it is to register people and associations, properties, vehicles, land, boats, aircraft etc. Each company has a SUNARP certificate where its founding is recorded, as well as its initial capital, changes in the board and in management and the issuing and revoking of powers etc. However changes in shareholding are not recorded and to determine this, it is necessary to follow a tiring, long and costly process. First, it is necessary to pay five soles to view on-screen a registered certificate (which can have between 10 and 100 pages) for up to 30 minutes. If the title of interest is found, it is necessary to lodge a request to read it, which costs five soles and a one-hour wait. If the document has the required information (the last shareholders meeting for example) a copy can be obtained, which costs three soles per page, plus another hour´s wait.
Obtaining information from SUNARP is feasible without wasting time, provided that one has the financial resources and the right knowledge to follow all the steps. The average citizen would not embark on this process unless there were a need to. During the fieldwork, it was evident that there were insufficient SUNARP guides to meet the demands of visitors, making access to information more difficult, especially for older people.
We have been able to identify the individual owners of almost all the groups and of the media, with the exception of Latina, whose principal owner is Enfoca Asset Management Ltd, a company registered in the Cayman Islands. Although we were unable to identify all its shareholders, we did discover who controls the company.
To find out if a given business person is or has been a member of a political party or grouping, we resorted to the Observatorio Para la Gobernabilidad (the Governance Watchdog) (Infogob) of the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (the National Jury of Elections). Using this portal, it is possible to locate the full name of the person in question and, where there are matches, view a certificate which details any party history and electoral processes in which the individual has participated at national or local level.
The main transparency problem was finding financial information about the media. The first source was the book Peru: The 10,000 Companies 2016, which identifies total income and net profits of the parent companies of the most important media groups (updated to 2014). Data about advertising income and market share is almost always absent. Other sources included files from Indecopi (in the case of Red TV, which has a creditor´s board), journalism articles about the issue and interviews with business people or with media representatives.