Archive for March, 2012

ToI group in squabble over Kannada paper title

30 March 2012

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: A first-generation newspaper promoter launches a newspaper with his first name as part of the title. After a few years, he sells the now well-established newspaper to a well-established newspaper group. The new owners (neither of whom share the original promoter’s surname) continue to publish the newspaper in its original name.

Now, if the original promoter buys up the title of another existing newspaper, which coincidentally also has his first name as part of its title, and decides to compete with his first newspaper in the same markets, is he banking on the saleability of his name—or indulging in trademark infringement?

Confused?

Well, that’s the sum and substance of a controversy that has broken out in Bangalore between The Times of India group of Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, and VRL Media owned by the truck operator Vijay Sankeshwar.

Thirteen years ago, Sankeshwar lauched the multi-edition Vijaya Karnataka, which soon became market leader. In 2006, he sold the daily and associated properties to The Times of India group. After the lapse of the five-year no-compete clause, Sankeshwar announced plans to launch a new daily.

He zeroed in on the title Vijaya Vani for his new project.

But The Times group is not amused. In fact, it has apparently issued a legal notice to VRL Media and the matter has landed in the courts in Bangalore. The Times group’s legal notice comes on the eve of Vijaya Vani‘s promise launch on Sunday, April 1.

Vishweshwar Bhat, the former editor of Vijaya Karnataka who now edits Kannada Prabha, points out on his blog:

“If the use of a name like “Vijay” is the cause of the strife, surely Samyukta Karnataka could have objected whenVijaya Karnataka was launched because the word Karnataka was in it? And surely, Praja Vani and Udaya Vani too could take objection to the title Vijaya Vani because the word Vani is in it?”

That’s problem no.1 in The Times argument. Problem no.2 is Vijaya Vani is a title that had been peacefully coming out for a small town called Tumkur, on the outskirts of Bangalore, till Vijaya Sankeshwar purchased it. So, if ToI had no problem with that title for six years, why does it have one now?

Problem no. 3: those who have seen dummy editions of the new (relaunched?) Vijaya Vani  say it will have a picture of the owner, Vijay Sankeshwar, alongside the masthead for a few months. Can either the courts or the registrar of newspapers deny a owner to name a paper after himself with a photo prove?

And who has forgotten the launch of Financial Times by The Times group 20 yers ago that has stymied the launch of the original FT for the last 20 years?

Wisdom founder-editor dead; long live Wisdom

29 March 2012

An advertisement published in The Hindu on Tuesday, March 27, in memory of the founder editor of Wisdom, the lower-priced monthly magazine containing bits of information from here, there, everywhere a la Reader’s Digest—on which generations of  Indians grew up.

Minister distributes newspapers in Kerala

28 March 2012

Kerala, is in the throes of an indefinite newspaper strike. A section of newspaper agents in God’s own country are demanding a trade discount of 50 per cent of the cover price, festival advances, pension schemes, etc. The strike oddly doesn’t affect papers owned by political parties, including the communist newspaper Deshabhimani.

***

From The Hindu:

Minister for social welfare M.K. Muneer and historian M.G.S. Narayanan joined a group of newspaper readers who gathered at a bus station here on Tuesday morning to protest against the ongoing strike by newspaper agents in several parts of Kerala.

The Minister, a leader of the Indian Union Muslim League, and other protesters said they wanted to express their resentment over the strike since it had denied ordinary people their right to read the newspapers of their choice.

The Minister and Dr. Narayanan distributed copies of certain newspapers at the spot.

While it was the legitimate right of every group to launch agitations over grievances, methods of protest that deprive people of their right to information were unfair and indefensible in a democracy, Dr. Muneer said. The strike was unfair since it deprived common people of their daily morning fare of news and information they offered, he said.

Dr. Narayanan, a former chairman of the Indian Council for Historical Research, said that without the morning newspaper ordinary Malayalees like him just felt lost. Several other social workers including a former vice-chairman of the Kerala Sahithya Akademi, U.K. Kumaran, and novelist K.P. Sudheera took part in the demonstration. Kumaran said the striking newspaper agents had a “hidden political agenda.”

The Indian Express programme in journalism

27 March 2012

Let the record show: Kazmi is not forgotten

26 March 2012

The arrest of the journalist S.M.A. Kazmi by the Delhi police in connection with the attack on an Israeli embassy car in the capital’s diplomatic enclave has been all but forgotten by members of his fraternity. In Bangalore on Sunday, members of Quds Freedom Movement staged a dharna demanding his release.

Photograph: Karnataka Photo News

Ex-TOI, ET editor E. Raghavan passes away

25 March 2012

sans serif records with deep regret the passing away of Ethiraj Raghavan, an Indian Express stringer who rose to be Editor of the largest selling Kannada daily newspaper, Vijaya Karnataka, in Bangalore on Saturday. He was 61 years old, and is survived his wife Kumuda and their daughter Swathi.

After stints with the Express in Mysore, Bangalore and New Delhi, E. Raghavan, as his byline went, joined the newly launched The Times in Bangalore in 1984.

That newspaper launched with a truncated title to circumvent labour laws in pre-liberalised India later became The Times of India. He later came its resident editor. In the mid 1990s, he shifted next door to be resident editor of The Economic Times, Bangalore, and eventually for all the southern editions of ET, till his retirement three years ago.

After a short spell as editorial consultant to DNA, Bangalore, Raaaa-gha-van (as he sonorously pronounced his name on the phone) returned to The Times group, first as consulting editor to Vijaya Next, a weekly Kannada newspaper launched by TOI, and then as editor of Vijaya Karnataka, that had been acquired by ToI six years ago.

Raghavan was co-author with the academic James Manor, of Broadening and Deepening of Democracy, a study of Karnataka politics.

An obituary in The Times of India, Bangalore, captures the essence of the man:

“You have got to get the drill right… Then things will naturally fall into place.”
That was Raghavan’s standard line on a big news day.
He would pump himself with an extra mug of coffee and call the reporters and the desk into a huddle. Every small news deveopment would be examined.
“Reporters need to overreact. The desk needs to see it in balance.”

Lots of people watch Lok Sabha TV. Surprised?

24 March 2012

It doesn’t look pretty when a free-to-air public service broadcaster gets into the TRP race.

Lok Sabha TV, the channel of the lower house of Parliament, has issued newspaper advertisements through the audio-visual publicity department (DAVP) of the government, of the viewership commanded by it in Delhi during the first week of March—when the results for the assembly elections to five States came out—and except for Times Now*, the news isn’t too good for the rest.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: Every channel is a winner in great poll race

Could this happen on Indian TV some day?—II

24 March 2012

More Pakistani mayhem, this time from Express TV, circa 2010.

Also read: Could this happen on Indin TV some day?

Poonam Pandey, Sachin Tendulkar & Telegraph

23 March 2012

There are many pertinent questions to be asked about the unbridled (and burgeoning) use of Facebook, Twitter and other social media as a source of news by newspapers and TV stations—not to mention websites like these.

One of those questions faces The Telegraph, Calcutta, which carried a picture* posted by the actor-stripper Poonam Pandey on her Twitter account (@iPoonampandey) in its tabloid t2 section on Monday.

In the picture*, Pandey—who threatened to pose nude if India won the cricket 2011 World Cup—stands naked with a photograph of “God” as an offering to Sachin Tendulkar, who scored his 100th hundred in Dhaka last week.

“Thinking what pic should I gift the “God of Cricket”…. This historic moment reminds me of an old pic which one of my fans had morphed…. this was the pic….”

The use of a tiny picture* in a city tabloid to celebrate the momentous occasion has resulted in a fullblown communal issue in Calcutta.

Wednesday’s Telegraph carried a front-page appeal by the chief minister, Mamata Banerjee.

“Some people are trying to stoke violence over a photograph published in a newspaper. I appeal to all members of the Hindu and Muslim commuities to steer clear of any provocation. The newspaper which carried the picture today tendered an apology.”

The Telegraph‘s apology, also carried on page one, read:

The Telegraph tenders an unconditional apology for reproducing a tweet by @iPoonpandey in Monday’s edition of t2. The publication was the result of a technical error. The Telegraph had no intention to hurt the sentiments of any community. We sincerely apologise for the hurt the publication of the tweet has caused.”

***

* photograph for representative purposes

There’s IIT, there’s IIM, there’s IISc and there is…

22 March 2012

Just so that the torch-bearer is not forgotten in all the buzz about and clamour for private journalism schools during admission season.

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