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Vol.15 Issue 2 (2019)

The Conundrum of ‘Relevant Market’: Market Definition in India’s Complex TV Distribution Business

Vibodh Parthasarathi

The universal problematic of market definition poses peculiar challenges in multi-lingual and fragmented media markets, like in India. This article engages with this problematic by taking up the case of the TV distribution market in India. Here, the rapidly expanding TV distribution business consists of two segments. The larger, wired Cable distribution segment, driven by over 1,000 large cable companies and over 50,000 last mile operators, accounts for 70 percent market share, or around 100 million TV homes. The rest 30 percent is occupied by the wireless segment, comprising 6 Direct to Home TV distributors. Amidst the heightened expansion of the TV distribution business during the last decade, we notice a series of cases at the Competition Commission of India (CCI) pertaining to ‘relevant market’. This paper provides a critical appraisal of CCI’s engagement with ideas of relevant geographical market and relevant product market during the first five years of such matters coming to it, i.e. between 2011 and 2015. Focussing on core concepts deployed in debating relevant markets, viz. substitutability and service area, the paper unravels conceptual and methodological challenges provoked by market definition in complex media landscapes such as India.


Associate Professor, Centre for Culture, Media and Governance, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.

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