Posts Tagged ‘India TV’

POLL: Should FDI in media be enhanced?

22 July 2013

With the economic downturn threatening to turn into a full-blown recession and with the finance minister reduced to going around the world with a hat in hand, the Congress-led UPA government last week increased foreign direct investment (FDI) in telecom, defence, petroleum refining, etc, but…

But, not the media.

On the issue of enhancing FDI in media from 26% to 49% under the automatic route as proposed by a finance ministry panel, two separate ministries swung into action. First, the ministry of information and broadcasting sought the views of the telecom regulatory authority (TRAI) and the press council (PCI).

And then, the home ministry opposed the hike, favouring control of media houses by Indians. The Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted official sources as saying:

# “Opening up of current affairs TV channels, newspapers and periodicals dealing with news and current affairs may lead to meddling in India’s domestic affairs and politics.

# “Increase of FDI in broadcasting and print media may also allow foreign players to launch propaganda campaign during any national crisis as well as when interests of any particular country is harmed through any government decision.

# “Big foreign media players with vested interests may try to fuel fire during internal or external disturbances and also can encourage political instability in the country through their publications or broadcasting outlets.”

These reasons have been touted for 22 years now and will surprise nobody. Last week, The Hindu (which was initially at the forefront of the opposition to FDI hikes in media) reported that the industry was divided on the FDI issue:

“While certain big networks like Times Television Network, Network 18 and NDTV are broadly supportive, others like India TV, Sun, Eenadu and Malayala Manorama group have objected to an increase in FDI caps.”

The Centre’s decision to not go-ahead with FDI in media in an election year will not surprise anybody. After all, it wouldn’t want to rub promoters and proprietors on the wrong side, especially when powerful corporates (potential election donors) have substantial stakes in the media.

Still, the question remains whether the media can be given this preferential treatment and, if so, for how long? Will the home ministry’s fears ever vanish? Or, will the media which talks of competition and choice as the great leveller in every sphere of life, seek the protection of politicians in power to protect its turf?

Also read: India opens another door for FDI in papers, mags

Everybody loves a good FDI announcement

When Rajdeep Sardesai got it left, right & centre

3 December 2010

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: There were two “key takeaways”—as TV anchors remind us every night, two “key takeaways”—from the post-Niira Radia chintan baithak organised by  the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, and the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC) in New Delhi on Friday.

The first takeaway is what the mainstream media (MSM) will report happily. Which is that senior editors in India (as the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder who attended the meeting reports) are “considering putting in place systems to ensure ethical practices in journalism”.

Meaning: aal iz well.

In other words, the grey hairs bowing before their Old Monk™ have fully grasped the import of the scandal that has enveloped the profession, following the publication of tapes and transcripts of conversations Radia had with Barkha Dut, Vir Sanghvi, Prabhu Chawla et al, and are poised to act.

The other takeaway is what only the tabloids would waste ink on (feel free to stop right here if your choice is broadsheet or berliner).

Which is that the president of the Editors’ Guild of India, Rajdeep Sardesai—whose favourite offline excuse for  ethical concerns in the profession is “Hamaam mein sab nange hain (everybody is naked in the public bathroom)”—actually had to stand unprotected under a very heavy downpour on a winter afternoon in Delhi today, for an hour if not more.

A downpour of criticism, that is.

The joint EGI-PCI-IWPC meeting started off well, as most introspection meetings do, with Outlook* chief editor Vinod Mehta not taking the names of the accused (because the matter is now in court and also because “my wife told me to be careful”) and striking the right balance of common sense and pragmatism, two commodities that have generally been in short supply.

“I keep hearing that this issue is sensitive and complicated, that it is not a black and white issue. I can’t understand what is so complex here. It doesn’t require an Albert Einstein or a rocket scientist.

“If you are talking to a hotel PRO and he tells you, ‘our hotel is the no.1 hotel in Asia’, it doesn’t mean you come and write that his hotel is the no.1 hotel in Asia. You check and verify before you report.

“The claim that they [Barkha and Vir] were stringing along their sources is complete bullshit. Do you think somebody like Radia would keep on giving information knowing that her instructions weren’t being followed?”

Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN, who took the mike next, rightly spoke of the dichotomous times we live in—when the media which has been behind some of the most impactful stories this year stands accused in the public eye of betraying their trust, a point he had made in his HT column earlier in the day.

Sardesai’s sage wisdom would have earned a few plaudits had he stopped right there.

But, as the cameras rolled, he launched into what seemed like a set piece, enlightening the captive audience comprising largely of journalists of his “problems” with the Outlook* expose—not contacting Barkha and Vir and giving them a chance to reply; running raw footage on the website (which also incidentally features his name a couple of times); the use of pictures of journalists not connected with the 2G scam on the cover and so on.

“This is shock and awe journalism… This is bad journalism inverting the principles of basic journalism…. This rot is not new, it has been around for three decades…. In this competitive age, access is information….”

“There is no proven quid pro quo…. The concerned journalists are guilty of professional misjudgement not professional misconduct… Reputations have been damaged…,” said Sardesai in a thinly disguised defence of his former NDTV colleague Barkha Dutt.

“I think what Outlook and Open have done is completely unethical…. A lot of criticism, let us admit, is also because of a certain envy.”

Hardly had Sardesai placed the mike on the table than Poornima Joshi of Mail Today was on her belligerent feet, urging him to spare the audience his pontification.

“I find it absolutely disturbing and disheartening that the president of editors’ guild is not only condoning but also justifying carrying of messages from a corporate to Congress,” Joshi, a former Outlook staffer, said.

Radhika Ramaseshan of The Telegraph [where Sardesai worked before he joined NDTV], took objection to Sardesai’s claim that this was all old hat, that there was nothing new in what was happening, that this has been happening, so why bother.

Neena Vyas [of The Hindu] has been covering BJP for 30 years. Nobody ever accused her of misusing her access. Likewise, there are a number of journalists who have never succumbed,” she said to applause.

Vyas, daughter of former Times of India editor Sham Lal, contradicted Sardesai in his face of  a statement he attributed to her of a BJP politician’s tacit condition that he would go soft on him in exchange for information.

When Vyas regaled the audience of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi “blackmailing” BJP bosses to throw RSS leader Sanjay Joshi out—after a sting operation of Joshi in a sexual act was shown on India TV (which Vyas alleged was owned by Narendra Modi),—CNN-IBN cameras telecast her allegation “live”.

“If Rajdeep Sardesai is so concerned about the raw footage of the Radia conversations being shown or reported, without giving the other side the chance to reply, how come he is showing this,” hissed a member of the audience audibly.

Vidya Subrahmaniam, also of The Hindu, contested Sardesai’s claim that there was no quid pro quo. The tapes, she said, carried enough evidence of quid pro quo since the journalists appeared to be doing exactly what they promised.

From that point on, it was downhill at top speed all the way for Sardesai, in front of several of his senior colleagues, including Bhupendra Chaubey, Vivian Fernandes and Ashutosh who had assembled in the front rows for what they had presumed would be a champagne show by their boss.

# One unidentified voice from the back rows asked, “How can you hold forth on ethics after CNN-IBN’s dubious role in the infamous cash-for-votes scandal [when it reportedly went back on a promise to telecast a sting operation commissioned by the BJP during the vote on the civilian nuclear bill].”

# Another demanded mandatory declaration of assets and liabilities by editors. “How do journalists manage to become owners of channels,” shouted the young voice, echoing former Hindustan Times‘ editor and Prasar Bharati chief Mrinal Pande‘s call for greater transparency in ownership.

# “Amitabh Bachchan read the news on your channel when he was trying to promote his film Rann, without CNN-IBN ever revealing that it was a promo for his film. You should have just said no, if you want to take the high moral ground on ethics,” said Akshay Mukul of The Times of India.

The restive audience wanted more time to question Sardesai but he beat a hasty exit before the meeting ended, citing lack of time and a prior engagement. And as he left, another voice shouted, within earshot of his wife Sagarika Ghose, “Did we just hear the president of the editors guild of India, or the editors’ guilt of India?”

Inside, at the bar, as the old residents reassembled, a young reporter chipped in: “Twitter and Facebook and all the social media have been delivering a simple message to old media in India: look within. Looks like someone’s just too happy listening to his own loud voice.”

Also read: Rajdeep Sardesai heckled over defending Vir, Barkha

The Hindu coverage of the Editors’ Guild debate

The New Indian Express: Heated debate

‘A List’ most A-listers don’t want to be a part of

19 September 2009

The Indian edition of Campaign has brought out a booklet called “The A List”, supposedly the who’s who in media, marketing and advertising, in partnership with NDTV Media.

And the sloppy, incomplete and typo-ridden effort is remarkable for how predictable and boring most A-listers are: the most-admired politician—surprise, surprise—is Mahatma Gandhi, almost everybody’s favourite device is the Blackberry™, etcetera.

Still there are a few trends to be spotted:

# Most owners have a marked inclination not to reveal more of themselves. The Times of India‘s Samir and Vineet Jain; Dainik Bhaskar‘s Sudhir Agarwal; India Today‘s Aroon Purie; Network 18’s Raghav Bahl; NDTV’s Prannoy and Radhika Roy; Sun TV’s Kalanidhi Maran; India TV’s Rajat Sharma; Hindustan TimesShobhana Bharatiya et al haven’t bothered to fill up the form.

# The list is so Bombay-Delhi centric that it would seem that the South and East of India are in some other country. Result: India’s biggest publications like Malayala Manorama, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Eenadu, Dina Thanthi, have no representation in a 100-rupee booklet that claims to represent “our entire ecosystem” (editor Anant Rangaswami‘s description).

# The new media goes almost completely unrepresented but for the presence of blogger Amit Varma, and many (Mid-Day‘s Tarique Ansari, NDTV’s Raj Nayak) admit they are technologically challenged.

# In a list teeming with people born in small-town India (Meerut, Madurai, Rohtak, Ratlam, Dhanbad, Kanpur, Karur, Manipal, Varanasi), many were born elsewhere: Business India founder Ashok Advani born in Hyderabad (Sindh); Outlook editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta, Rawalpindi; India Today proprietor Aroon Purie, Lahore, and COO Mala Sekhri, London; CNBC’s Senthil Chengalvarayan, Kandy, Sri Lanka; A.P. Parigi, ex-Radio Mirchi head, Colombo; Vaishnavi Communications’ Neera Radia, Kenya; INX chief Peter Mukherjea, London.

Also read: 26% of India’s powerful are media barons

The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

With so many polls, somebody had to get it right

23 May 2009

LIVE INDIA-ADVT

Duck’s eggs, it is said, are tastier than hen’s eggs. But more people eat hen’s eggs because, well, the hen lays its eggs and advertises its feat, while the duck keeps quiet about it.

That’s the bon mot of a very successful newspaper editor.

As if to underline the point, Live India, the TV station more famous for a sting which stung it, claims it predicted the results of the general elections on air more accurately than its better known competitors like NDTV, Aaj Tak, CNN-IBN, India TV has taken out an advertisement to crow about the taste of its egg.

Also read: It’s their opinion that they have done an opinion poll

It is their opinion they have done an exit poll

17 May 2009

Exit polls are said to be more reliable than opinion polls in gauging the mood of the electorate since pollsters catch respondents immediately after they have cast their ballot.

But for the second successive time in five years, mainstream Indian media organisations have fallen flat on their faces in their “exit poll” projections, throwing a big question mark over the authenticity of their claims, the reliability of the pollster’s methods, and their use as a media device.

Obviously, the size of the country, the size of the electorate, the multiple parties and issues involved, etc, making prediction an immeasurably difficult task, but the consistency with which polls are getting it wrong throw a big question mark over the role the media is performing in our democracy: do they have their ear to the ground, catching the pulse of the people whose eyes and ears they are supposed to be.

Or have they become a megaphone for uninformed news, views and gossip, no different from a roadside tea shop.

***

In 2004, all the exit polls predicted a return to power for the NDA giving the ruling alliance a lead of 40-90 seats and more; in the end, the BJP-led alliance fell 32 seats below the predictions and was routed by the UPA.

In 2009, all the exit polls predicted a thin lead for the ruling UPA; some predictions sighted a single-digit margin between the two alliances. In the end, the Congress-led UPA ended up almost 100 seats ahead of the NDA.

***

2004 Elections

NDTV-Indian Express: NDA 230-250, Congress + allies 190-205,

Aaj Tak/ Headlines Today: NDA 248, Congress + allies 189

Zee News: NDA 249, Congress + allies 176

Star News: NDA 263-275, Congress + allies 174-186

Actual tally: NDA 187, Congress + allies 219

***

2009 Elections

NDTV: UPA 216, NDA 177, Third Front 15

Star News-AC Neilsen: UPA 199, NDA 196

CNN-IBN-CSDS: UPA 185-205, NDA 145-160

India TV-C Voter: UPA 189-201, NDA 183-195

Headlines Today: UPA 191, NDA 180

The Times of India: UPA 198, NDA 183

Actual tally: UPA 256, NDA 164

‘Do terrorists sit around watching television?’

10 December 2008

Did the non-stop television coverage of the terror attack on Bombay reveal operational details of the commando operations, endanger the lives of hostages, intrude into the personal lives of victims and relatives, etc?

In today’s Indian Express, the founder of India TV, Rajat Sharma, claims he tried an interesting experiment last Saturday. He invited a former army chief to address the staff  “to understand, from a decorated war hero, whether news channels went overboard in their coverage”, and what precautions, if any, producers, reporters and camerapersons should have taken while showing “live” action.

Writes Sharma:

“To my surprise, the former army chief was emphatic: “News channels did nothing wrong. Your coverage didn’t do any harm whatsoever to the commandos! I’ve handled action as a major, then as a full colonel, and finally as an army commander in anti-terrorist operations, and there’s nothing I could make out from the news channel about the strategy of our commandos.

“Frankly, I expected him to echo what some have been saying—how terrorists got valuable clues on the commando plan by watching our channels. But sample what he said: “Do you think that terrorists holed up in a hotel facing commando fire had time to watch TV?”

“A young reporter persisted. He reminded the general of the “widespread belief” that the terrorists were being briefed on their Blackberrys by their bosses, watching our news channels. Promptly came the angry reply. “Anyone suggesting this must be mad. (Even) I could not get an idea about the action plan. Who has the time to look at TV and Blackberrys when you are in the midst of gunfire?”

Read the full article here: Reality, not television

Read Barkha Dutt’s defence: ‘The media is not the message. The viewer is king’

Also read: ‘NDTV: Navy chief’s comment is defamatory’

‘Is abusing politicians the nation’s agenda?’

13 June 2008

Harinder Baweja of Tehelka buttonholes Rajat Sharma, the editor-in-chief of India TV that sits on top of the heap of Hindi news channels, with its mix of sleaze, superstition, and “a host of other debatable tricks” that has left its seven competitors playing catch up:

# TV viewership is like a game of cricket. There was a time when Tests were a big hit… Now it is Twenty-20. The content has to change with time, even at the risk of being criticised by other colleagues in the media industry.

# We have changed the definition of news. If people still think that politicians cutting ribbons is news, those days are behind us. And (so are) speeches made in the parliament.

# We are in the business of news and only news. But today, entertainment has become big news.

# What is the agenda of the country? Is it only to keep abusing politicians? Is it only to show long speeches and ribbon cuttings? We have set the agenda.

# At my daily meeting with the editorial team, I tell them “go for the kill”. Don’t do a story that will make me or the chief producer or you happy; do one that will make the viewers happy. This is the formula. Go for the viewer. Speak for them.

Read the full interview: ‘I’ve a channel that tops the ratings. I’m not ashamed.’

Photograph: courtesy India TV

How Indian TV slayed a dangerous superstition

18 March 2008

In a moment of pure television, an Indian rationalist has challenged a black magician to kill him on live TV—and survived to tell the tale.

On March 3, Sanal Edamaruku of Rationalist International found himself opposite Pandit Surinder Sharma, a tantrik who claims to be a consultant for top Indian politicians and is a wellknown face on TV.

During a discussion on “Tantrik power versus Science” on the ultra-tabloid India TV run by Rajat Sharma, Sharma claimed he was able to kill any person he wanted within three minutes using black magic.

The rationalist challenged him. The tantrik chanted special mantras, used water, his fingers and a knife, but failed. All this, while the TV station ran the item as “Breaking News” with a super in Hindi that read, “Now Everything Will Happen Live”. Then the tantrik claimed that the technique worked only at night.

The rationalist accepted the challenge again, and the TV show spilled well over its scheduled time. This time, the tantrik used mantras, paper, butter oil, peacock feathers, mustard seed, wheat flour dough, and his finger nails. But he failed again.

Over a couple of hours, a dangerous and widespread Indian superstition had been slayed in the studios, while the channel laughed all the way to the top of the ratings’ chart.

Photographs: courtesy India TV/ Rationalist International

Read the full story: The only place black magic works is in your mind

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