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India vs the US: The different media ecosystems

India has a flourishing media scene, with thousands of outlets operating in multiple languages. There are around 197 million TV homes, many of them using direct-to-home satellite and cable services.

Nearly 900 private satellite TV stations are on the air, around half of them devoted to news coverage.

Doordarshan, the public TV, operates multiple services, including flagship DD1, which reaches hundreds of millions of viewers. Multichannel satellite TV is a huge hit. Leading platforms have millions of subscribers. State-owned Doordarshan runs a free-to-air platform, DD Free Dish.

Over the Top (OTT) streaming platforms have a large following. Music-based FM radio stations abound. But only public All India Radio can produce news programming. AIR stations reach more than 99% of the population.

India's press is lively and there are around 17,000 newspaper titles. Driven by a growing middle class, the cumulative newspaper circulation figure is more than 400 million.

International organizations give a mixed assessment of media freedom. Privately-owned media are "vigorous and diverse," says US-based Freedom House. But it says that the authorities use security, defamation, and hate speech legislation to curb critical voices.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) highlight the problem of violence against journalists, especially those working for non-English-language-media in rural areas.

It says that reporting in regions that the authorities deem to be sensitive, such as Indian-administered Kashmir is difficult.

American Media Scenario

The print and electronic media in the United States, offering wide news and entertainment options are a pervasive element in American society.

According to a recent survey by Mediamark Research, 98% of Americans have a television; 82% of those watch "prime time" and 71% cable programming in an average week.

84% percent of Americans listen to the radio regularly. 79% percent are newspaper readers. 45% of the whole American population has access to the Internet, while for certain demographic groups that percentage reaches a high of close to 70%.

Economics plays a major role in shaping the information served up to the U.S. the public in newspapers, on radio and television, and now on the Internet.

While nonprofit and advocacy organizations have significant voices, most of the public's primary sources of information -- major urban newspapers, the weekly news magazines, and the broadcast and cable networks -- are in business to make money.

Media and communications, with revenues of over $242 billion, are one of America's largest business group.

In 2000, adult consumers of media information and amusement products spent over $675 a person.

Advertisers spent an additional $215 billion to bring their products to the attention of the American public. The media are a great engine in American society, providing jobs for hundreds of thousands of technicians, writers, artists, performers, and intellectuals and shaping attitudes and beliefs.

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