This study observes that three key overlapping features dominate the media ownership landscape of Bangladesh. First, many outlets are controlled by family members. Second, most owners of media outlets are directly or indirectly affiliated with political parties. And finally, almost all the media outlets are owned by big business groups with diverse financial interests.
Family connections in the ownership as well as management of media companies in Bangladesh is a defining feature of the mediascape of Bangladesh. It is also observed that members of the same family control multiple media outlets as owners of different business groups. The involvement and influence of party politics in the media’s ownership is noted in this study. Four forms of association are conspicuous in this regard. First, whether a media outlet will get a license largely depends on the government’s relationship with the entrepreneur. Second, politicians themselves become involved in media ownership. Third, influential ruling party politicians lobby for different business groups to help attain licenses for media outlets. Fourth, ownership of the media changes hands to those who are connected to the incumbent political parties.
One of the significant features in Bangladesh’s mediascape is the overwhelming presence of large business groups or conglomerates as the owners of multiple media outlets. Most of the 48 media outlets analyzed in this report are run by conglomerates. There is a complicated interest-based relationship between the media outlets and the business groups that own them. An overwhelming connection between several business sectors and the business groups and/or their directors is observed. Media owners have a significant presence in four sectors: banks and financial institutions; insurance, energy, and real estate.