Politics & Friends
In Mongolia, politics is business and business is politics. And there are no regulatory safeguards at all against political control over media ownership. Consequently, Mongolia’s media market is penetrated by political affiliations.
The vast majority of media outlets investigated by MOM have direct or indirect links to a political party or to politicians. In fact, 29 out of a total of 39 investigated media outlets have political affiliations through their founders and / or owners that are 74, 36 %.
Only radio breaks at least even, with 3 out of 6 stations having no political affiliations. The ones without political influences are: Family Radio 104.5 owned by Salkhi Entertainment LLC; Elgen Nutag FM 96.9 owned by Ekh Elgen Nutag LLC; and Arga Bileg 95.7 owned by Children Future Culture Education Foundation. So 50 % of investigated radio stations have political affiliations in one form or another.
The majority of new media is not truly independent: 7 out of 10 news websites investigated have political affiliations. For example the avant-garde news website itoim.mn, whose co-owner is head of the communication department of Parliament. The independent websites are: ikon.mn owned by Benecraft LLC and shuud.mn owned by Interactive Media LLC. So 70 % of websites have political affiliations.
The strong political influence includes the Public Service Broadcaster MNB. In fact, the political party in power directly appoints the members of the MNB Governing Board, its senior management and sometimes also leading journalists.
The biggest apple of discord: Big Business and Corruption
Throughout the 25 years of democratic developments in Mongolia the biggest apple of discord between politics and the media always was and still is: Big Business and Corruption.
By now, the multiple links between politics and businesses resulting in multiple pressures on media and journalists, might work too well. Anyhow, it is disturbing, as not to say frightening, how little consequences investigative journalism reports tend to have. Just one example is the 2015 story of journalist Luntan Bolormaa, about the Minister of Social Welfare, which allegedly used large sums of his budget not for handicapped children, but for private business endeavours. Neither parliament nor police investigated these allegations. Instead, the Minister in question was re-elected as Member of Parliament for the Democratic Party in June 2016. (See Big Business & Washed News)