Like never before, the world is experiencing a process of concentration of wealth in a few hands, of concentration and mergers of the property of transnational corporations and of giant tracts of land being controlled by a few corporations. Journalism, academia and different civil society organizations, have warned about the dangers and risks for the citizenry that the phenomenon of economic concentration implies.
The global media industry is not exempt from this process and nor are national media markets. Over the last three months, the German chapter of Reporters Without Borders and Ojo-Publico.com have built a database known as the Media Ownership Monitor (MOM) to discover the economic weight and the audience of the most important media groups in Peru, in the same way project has done so in other countries of the Americas, Europe and Asia.
The following is what we discovered:
The power of "El Comercio"
In Peru there is one group which strongly dominates both circulation and readership through nine newspapers at local and national level, Internet traffic through 13 digital media and a large audience share through its free-to-air channel. It also concentrates private advertising and the national industry´s total financial income. Founded in Lima in the 19th century as a small news bulletin, it has today become an unrivaled media giant: the El Comercio Group.
In terms of financial concentration, the following conclusions have been drawn:
Estimates based on reports of the Securities Market Inspectorate (SMV) for 2016 and the book: Peru The Top 10,000 Companies 2015 indicate that nine media groups (including state media) received an average of 2.5 billion soles (US$ 757 million). Of this total, El Comercio and its subsidiaries received more than 1.4 billion soles (US$ 411 million), or almost 60%.
The remaining 1.1 billion soles (US$ 323 million) were shared amongst the other important media groups: ATV and Latina, as well as the state group (Instituto de Radio y Televisión del Perú and Empresa Peruana de Servicios Editoriales), RPP, La República, CRP Medios, Panamericana Televisión and Corporación Universal.
Printed and digital media: circulation and readership
According to data from the Association of Peruvian Journalism Companies (SEPP), between 2013 and 2014 El Comercio concentrated 80% of newspaper circulation and 78% of the readership in a market which three years earlier had been shared equally between the Miro Quesada family, the Epensa company of the Agois Banchero family and La Repun and La República of Mohme Seminario. After purchasing Epensa in 2013, El Comercio has nine newspapers with editions in the north, center and south of the country.
The courts are yet to rule on the complaint against El Comerico for alleged violation of freedom of information.
El Comercio concentrates 65% of the monthly unique users of digital media measured by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which considers itself the world leading representative body for online advertising. According to its data, El Comericio has 13 online digital media with a monthly audience estimated at 72.3 million unique users of the total for Peru of 109 million.
The digital version (elcomercio.pe) of El Comercio alone has more than 20 million users per month. Even accounting for the fact that under Internet traffic measuring conventions, a single unique user does not represent one person, the Miro Quesada family´s position in the online market is dominant. IAB Peru has used the word “concentration”, in concluding that the five main digital media in its ranking receive 91% of the 236 million soles that the advertising industry invested in the sector in 2014.
The study Ciberperiodismo en Iberoamérica published in Spain in 2016, established that there are approximately 125 traditional print newspapers and 101 digital newspapers in Peru.
Television: The power of Chanel 4
El Comercio has less dominance in the free-to-air television market, where there is a more equitable distribution according to average annual figures from Kantar Ibope Media in 2015: América Televisión-Canal 4 of El Comercio and La República (22.9%), Latina-Canal 2 of the investment fund Enfoca (16.3%) and ATV-Canal 9 of the Mexican magnate Ángel Gonzalez (10.8%).
The ATV Group, the second most important in the Peruvian market by monthly income after El Comercio, concentrates a large number of channels. This media, whose parent is the Albavisión company in Miami, owns 11 of the 36 free-to-air channel available on Peru’s spectrum. A report for 2012 prepared by ConcorTv--an organ of the Ministry of Transport and Communications--revealed that the ATV Group owns 16% of the 1,259 stations registered nationally.
In the case of radio, three media groups control 64% of the FM band in metropolitan Lima: Corporación Radial del Perú of the Zavala family, the RPP Group of Delgado Natchigall family and Corporación Universal of the Capuñay family.
The analysis of national industry concentration undertaken by Reporters Without Borders and Ojo-Publico.com seeks to contribute to the debate about the influence and impact of groups of power in the community and about the need for society to know who controls the main providers of the media consumed each day in Peru.