In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Media Politics in South Asia

  • Introduction
  • Media and the Public Sphere
  • Media and Political Campaigns
  • Political Economy of the Media
  • Media and Globalization
  • Digital Media and Politics
  • Misinformation and Digital Media

Political Science Media Politics in South Asia
Taberez Ahmed Neyazi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 27 October 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 October 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0213


The relationship between media and politics has been an important topic of study in social science literature. The focus of media and politics has been to analyze the influence of media on politics and how a particular political system affects the ways media function. The field of media and politics known as political communication is dominated by a strong empirical tradition in the United States and Europe, along with the existence of qualitative tradition. However, in the case of South Asia, the study of the relationship between media and politics has primarily been preoccupied by qualitative literature with a very few quantitative studies available on the subject. The field of media and politics could best be conceptualized as the study of the relationship between media actors—journalists and media owners, political actors (candidates and political parties), and a diverse public. In the South Asian context, it is important to recognize the diversities that inform the relationship of media and politics at various levels: linguistic, ethnic, and regional diversities are the most prominent ones, while also taking into account the existence of subnational identities within a particular nation. For example, India has twenty-two officially recognized languages and newspapers and news television are available in almost all the official languages. These diversities make it difficult for the media to have an impact beyond the specific audience. Hence, it is not easy to study the agenda-setting power of the media when audiences are fragmented along linguistic lines and exposed to diverse sources of information. Although freedom of the press has been protected legally in most South Asian countries, repression and attacks on freedom of speech are regularly reported. The Freedom House report of 2020, which monitors press freedom globally in addition to people’s access to political rights and civil liberties, dubs all South Asian countries in global freedom score as “partly free.” Importantly, Freedom House report in 2020 for the first time downgraded India from free to partly free on account of growing human rights violations, growing discrimination against Muslims and repression against civil liberties and media freedom. Given these backgrounds and nuances, the study of media and politics in South Asia is marked not only by complexities, but also by a lack of scholarship on the subject as compared to other regions of the world. Even within South Asia, most of the literature on media and politics deals largely with India. The reason stems perhaps from the dominant position of India within the South Asian region, but it could also be attributed to the mostly authoritarian nature of political systems in all South Asian countries except for India.

Media, Public Opinion, and Mobilization

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