Posts Tagged ‘Asianet’

Rajeev Chandrasekhar picking up Eenadu TV?

15 December 2011

For a paper which turns its nose at news about the rest of the media, The Times of India has a strange item on its business page, news of the mobile phone entrepreneur turned member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, evincing some interest in Ramoji Rao‘s Eenadu television chain in Andhra Pradesh.

The ToI report comes a day after a Business Standard report that Network 18 was in the midst of merger talks with Eenadu. There has been plenty of market buzz that Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries has been more than interested in Eenadu through its subsidiaries and friends like Nimesh Kampani.

For the record, Chandrasekhar already owns news properties in print and television in Malayalam (Asianet News) and Kannada (Suvarna News, Kannada Prabha).

Also read: Kannada Prabha is now Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s

Rajeev Chandrasekhar buying a Malayalam daily?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar eyeing Deccan Herald?

Is the media manufacturing middle-class dissent?

21 August 2011

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from Delhi: The media coverage of the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement, like the movement itself, is a story in two parts—and both show the perils of the watchdog becoming the lapdog in diametrically opposite ways.

In Act I, Scene I enacted at Jantar Mantar in April, sections of the Delhi media unabashedly played along with the establishment in a “crude and disgusting character assassination”, discrediting civil society members in an attempt to strangulate the joint Lokpal drafting panel, without  showing any remorse.

In Act II, three scenes of which have been enacted in the past week at Tihar Jail, Chhatrasaal Stadium and now the Ramlila Grounds, there has been no need to invoke Armani and Jimmy Choo, after the government’s spectacular cock-ups at the hands of high-IQ, Harvard-educated lawyers who recite nursery-school rhymes to wah-wahs from unquestioning interviews.

On the contrary, it can be argued that the pendulum has swung to the other end this time round.

The Times of India and Times Now, both market leaders in number termshave made no attempt to hide where their sympathies lie in this “Arnab Spring”, when the urban, articulate, newspaper-reading, TV-watching, high-earning, high-spending, apolitical, ahistorical, post-liberalised, pissed-off-like-mad middle-class gets worked up.

When the market leaders go down that road, the others are left with no option but to follow suit.

Obviously neither extreme can be the media’s default position. However, unlike last time when there was little if not no criticism of the “orchestrated campaign of calumny, slander and insinuation“, at least two well known media figures  have found the courage to question this kind of wide-eyed, gee-whiz reporting.

Sashi Kumar, the founder of India’s first regional satellite channel Asianet and the brain behind the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), in Outlook*:

“In the race for eyeballs, a section of the media—some TV channels in particular—give the impression of sprinting ahead of the story and dragging it along behind them. What defies imagination, even as it stretches journalistic credibility, is that the messengers become the lead players, directing the route the story will take, conjuring up twists and turns where there are none, and keeping the illusion of news-in-the-making breathlessly alive….

“The relationship between such media and their essentially middle class consumers is becoming uncomfortably incestuous. When respondents cluster around a camera for a vox pop, they are not so much required to offer their independent view on an issue as add to the chorus of opinion orchestrated by the channel. A photo op masquerades as a movement. Dissident voices get short shrift. It is more like a recruitment drive than a professional journalistic exercise to seek and purvey news.

“Increasingly, the channel’s role seems to be to trigger and promote a form of direct democracy by the middle class. Politics and politicians are routinely debunked; even representative democracy doesn’t seem to make the grade.”

NDTV group editor and star anchor Barkha Dutt too strikes a similar note in the Hindustan Times:

“Critics of the Hazare campaign have questioned the media narrative as well, accusing wall-to-wall TV coverage of holding up a permanent oxygen mask to the protests. It’s even been pointed out that Noam Chomsky’s scathing commentary on the mass media -‘Manufacturing Consent’ would be re-written in TV studios today as Manufacturing Dissent.

“But again, if the TV coverage of the protests is overdone, it only proves that the UPA’s perennial disdain for the media — and the diffidence of its top leaders — has given its opponents the upper hand in the information battle. There is something so telling about the fact that 74-year-old Anna Hazare made effective use of the social media by releasing a YouTube message from inside jail and the PM of India’s oldest political party is still to give his first interview to an Indian journalist.”

*Disclosures apply

Photograph: Besides temporary studios set up by almost all the news channels, nearly a dozen Jimmy Jib cameras (swinging cameras on cranes) hover over the heads of those assembled at Anna Hazare‘s fast at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi on Friday.

Also read: The ex-Zee News journo on Anna Hazare team

Ex-Star News, ToI journos on Anna Hazare team

To err is human, to eff up repeatedly is divine

13 May 2011

If only they weren’t taken so seriously by TV news channels, election surveys and exit polls should be published on the comics pages, for the unbridled fun they offer—after the declaration of results.

Above is The Times of India‘s composite  infographic of all the surveys done by various TV stations and polling agencies for the five states that had elections to their legislative assemblies.

Most pollsters got Bengal bang on, CNN-IBN gets Kerala right, Assam is kinda tricky for all, and Tamil Nadu is, well, impossible for all, only C-Voter comes close.

Below are the leads at 1 pm.

West Bengal: Trinamul Congress 215, Left front 72

Tamil Nadu: AIADMK 195, DMK 37

Kerala: UDF 72, LDF 65

Assam: Congress 81, AGP 10, Others 35

Little wonder, CNN-IBN’s resident number-cruncher Yogendra Yadav of CSDS began proceedings this year by grandly denouncing the fact that each election was seen as a test of pollsters.

Infographic: courtesy The Times of India

Radia effect on PM’s invitees for TV pow-wow?

16 February 2011

Prime minister Manmohan Singh‘s much ballyhooed pow-wow with “editors” of television channels to clear the air over the scams dogging his government, was, as was to be expected, a typically tepid, bureaucratic affair.

Only the national English TV channels—Headlines Today (represented by Aroon Purie), CNN-IBN (Rajdeep Sardesai), NDTV 24×7 (Prannoy Roy), Times Now (Arnab Goswami)—were interested in asking questions (and suplementaries, much to media advisor Harish Khare‘s discomfiture) about corruption.

Most of the rest, be they from regional channels like Sun TV, Calcutta TV or Asianet, or “international channels” like BBC and Al-Jazeera, were content with asking questions relevant to their audiences and markets (Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Assam, Europe, Middle East).

Questions are already doing the rounds on why some sizeable channels like Star News, TV9, etc, went unrepresented. And rumours are already doing the rounds on why at least one sizeable editor was absent.

Radhika Ramaseshan reports in The Telegraph, Calcutta:

“The owner of an English channel had been requested to be present instead of deputing a colleague.

“The owner-editor of another Delhi-based channel was also told he would be welcome. Other channels were sent a general invite.

“The caution came against the backdrop of the Niira Radia tapes featuring conversations of some journalists.”

Also read: Did Niira Radia tapes have impact on Padma awards?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar eyeing ‘Kannada Prabha’?

19 March 2010

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: Bangalore’s media circles are abuzz with rumours that Kannada Prabha, the struggling Kannada newspaper owned by the New Indian Express group, is being eyed by the Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who also owns the 24×7 Kannada news channel Suvarna News.

Obviously, there are no confirmations or denials of the rumoured deal from either side, but well placed sources say a “strategic investment” is on the way from the cash-flushed former BPL Mobile scion—No. 37 on the India Today powerlist—who has been aiming to expand his print presence in the Kannada media.

Sources in Madras, however, hint at a full-stake sale, rumoured to be in the region of Rs 100 crore.

Those in the know claim a change in the imprint line of the 52-year-old Kannada Prabha could appear as early as April 1, but then it could all turn out to be an April Fool’s joke considering that such rumours have emerged (and died peacefully) several times before.

To be sure, though, Chandrasekhar, 45—who made his pile first in 2005 when he sold BPL mobile after a fallout with his father-in-law and then in 2008 when he sold a majority stake in the Malayalam channel Asianet to Rupert Murdoch—has been looking for print acquisitions in Karnataka and Kerala for a while now.

In 2007, he toyed around with Deccan Herald, till his offer was rebuffed. He revamped the Suvarna News channel largely with print staff who had hopped over from Kannada Prabha. A new paper  with the working title Suvarna Prabha/ Suvarna Karnataka, was on the anvil, till word of a Kannada Prabha buyout broke.

The deal, if it comes through, will be a win-win for both Chandrasekhar and Express bossman Manoj Kumar Sonthalia.

For the former, it will mean one competitor less, a ready network and infrastructure, and a known brand of long vintage but somewhat questionable potential. For the latter, it will mean not having to bleed further in pushing an also-ran product, which has never had a chance, caught as it has been in the crossfire between the Times of India-owned Vijaya Karnataka and Deccan Herald-owned Praja Vani.

The Times of India shut down its translated Kannada language edition ten days ago.

However, both the New Indian Express and Kannada Prabha are published by same holding company, Express Publications (Madurai) Limited, and it is unclear whether Sonthalia has attracted Chandrasekhar’s bulging wallet only in Kannada Prabha or in the English paper as well.

However, there are some who aver that these rumours could just be “dirty tricks” by the Suvarna group—largely comprising ex-Kannada Prabha staffers—to rattle their alma mater. Nearly two dozen KP staffers have left the paper in recent months, many in anticipation of a new paper from the Suvarna stable.

Kannada Prabha was recently in the eye of a storm after it translated and republished a 2007 Taslima Nasrin essay without her permission. Two people lost their lives in the ensuing trouble.

Image: courtesy Rajeev Chandrasekhar

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