Posts Tagged ‘Neera Radia’

Vir Sanghvi, Modi, 1984 and Hindustan Times

26 July 2013

In the latest issue of Open magazine, its political editor Hartosh Singh Bal writes on the re-appearance of former Hindustan Times editor Vir Sanghvi on the pages of the newspaper, to underline the the media’s janus-faced approach to the anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984 under Congress watch and the 2002 Gujarat riots under BJP rule:

Narendra Modi is not just unfit for the post of Prime Minister; he is unfit for any public office. But the shamelessness of such a man is best questioned by a media that is immune to questions about its own motives.

“Just this week, Delhi woke up to an article on the edit page of one of India’s leading newspapers, the Hindustan Times, by none other than Vir Sanghvi.

“Writing in the paper on politics for the first time since his misuse of the same space was rather dramatically highlighted in the Radia Tapes, he commented on the Modi campaign: ‘No matter which party wins, India is certain to lose.’

“It seems even shame has its limits.

“It is no surprise that almost a decade earlier Sanghvi had written about the 1984 massacres: ‘On the more substantive issue of whether the administration allowed Delhi to burn, all the commissions have been unanimous: yes, it did, but this was because of incompetence and negligence, not because of any sinister design. If there is a parallel, it is with the 1993 Bombay riots rather than with Gujarat.’

“Somehow, he always manages to say exactly what the Congress wants to hear. To me it seems that no matter who wins, with his piece being published, journalism in some measure has already lost.”

Read the full column: The end of shame

Also read: Vir Sanghvi and Barkha Dutt: “We were targetted”

HT strips Vir Sanghvi of his editorial advisory role

Vir Sanghvi suspends Hindustan Times column

Vir Sanghvi says his HT column will resume soon

Why we didn’t hear Niira Radia tapes: 2 examples

86% feel let down by CD baat of journalists

After Athreya and Kautilya, enter Chanakya

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, NDTV & Prannoy Roy

19 May 2011

In conversation number #132 in the infamous Niira Radia tapes, the lobbyist whose name has become synonymous with the 2G scam, talks to M.K. Venu, then of The Economic Times, in July 2009:

Venu: Is Manoj (Modi) is here (in Delhi) today also, no?

Radia: Yeah, he is here, he is leaving in the afternoon, later part of the afternoon. We are meeting Prannoy (Roy of NDTV) today. We need to support Prannoy, you know… We feel it needs to be supported.

Now, the penny drops.

Money Life, the personal finance magazine run by the investigative journalist Sucheta Dalal, reports that the American investment firm D.E. Shaw has picked up a 14.2% stake in NDTV, providing an exit to another blue chip investor, Goldman Sachs, which held an equivalent stake.

Reports Money Life:

“Interestingly, the D.E. Shaw investment in NDTV has happened in less than two weeks since it joined hands with Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) to enter the Indian financial services sector. Now we know that Mukesh Ambani has a soft spot for NDTV’s promoters and anchors and that they had previously approached him for an investment.”

Manoj Modi is Mukesh Ambani’s Man Friday. Niira Radia represented Mukesh Ambani and counted NDTV Imagine among her many clients before the 2G scam broke.

M.J. Akbar‘s Sunday Guardian reported in March that Radia was behind the January 2010 launch of a book by bureaucrat-turned-politician N.K. Singh in London, for which Ambani, Venu and NDTV’s Barkha Dutt travelled together on the same plane.

Read the full article: NDTV continues to find buyers

Listen to the conversation: #132 M.K. Venu: July 09, 2009

The “journalist” who offered a Rs 2 crore bribe?

3 May 2011

Journalists and media houses are turning out to be key go-betweens and beneficiaries in the 2G spectrum allocation scam that has already seen a Union minister and several corporate honchos go behind bars.

Several famous scribes have found themselves on the infamous Niira Radia tapes, at least one journalist’s house has been raided, and a TV channel has been named as the recipient of the bribe money.

Despite the strongarm tactics adopted by Ratan Tata‘s Tatasons against The Times of India group with obvious commercial implications, The Economic Times continues to lead the way in its coverage of the scam.

This time, Rohini Singh shines the light on the burgeoning breed of middlemen-journalists, for whom the press information bureacu (PIB) accreditation card is, well, the gift that continues to give.

Newspaper facsimile: courtesy The Economic Times

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Also read: What Niira Radia told PAC on Barkha Dutt chat

Have the Tatas blacklisted The Times of India again?

Four lessons in journalism from the Tatas’ chief PRO

Tamil journalist’s house raided in 2G spectrum scam

Nakkheeran journo denies wife worked for Radia firm

2G scam bribe was diverted to Tamil TV channel

Has media credibility suffered a body blow in 2G scam?

What Niira Radia told PAC on Barkha Dutt chat

28 April 2011

The 21-member public accounts committee (PAC), which probed the 2G spectrum allocation scam and finalised its draft report in a hurry, has gone into a tailspin with the draft report being rejected 11-10 and the Congress members charging the chairman, Murli Manohar Joshi, of leaking the report.

Tehelka magazine has put up the PAC draft report and its recommendations on its website.

Chapter 13 of the draft report deals with the Niira Radia tapes that singed many a journalist and media house. Here’s what the Tata lobbyist, the central figure of the tapes, told the PAC about the tapes and her conversations with NDTV anchor Barkha Dutt, among other topics:

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13.16    The Committee asked Ms Nira Radia whether the transcriptions of her conversation with various people,  as published in the Outlook* and Open magazines were correct and authentic. Ms. Radia replied:

“We have not accepted any of these conversations”.

13.17    The Committee asked whether any notice had been served to the Editors of the two magazines.  In reply, Mr. Radia stated:

“We have served  a legal notice at the time they published the conversations, because, I believe, there is a tremendous amount of distortion in what they published and in the context in which they published the conversations and the real conversations.  I believe that there is a tremendous amount of editing that has taken place in the conversations”.

13.18    The Committee then retorted that they were informed that nobody had legally contests or contradicted what was published in the magazines.  In reply, Ms. Radia stated:

“If I can say, there are two aspects to this.  When the conversations were made public, we did what we had to.  We had to do it in terms of making at least protesting it as far as the magazine is concerned.  As far as legal recourse available to us is concerned, we have time for the legal recourse”.

She further stated:

“……. Our  priority at that time was to cooperate with the agencies because that was what was required of us to do.  That is what we have done.  As far as the magazines are concerned, I would imagine you are aware that my clients, who are the Tatas, have taken action and they moved the court on the larger issue of privacy in which the court itself has served notices to these magazines”.

13.19    Asked to state specifically whether any legal notice was served or not, Ms. Radia at last admitted:

“We served only a protest.  We have not taken legal action”.

She further stated that she was intending to take legal action.

13.20    When the Committee pointed out several of her exact conversations on payment of bride for spectrum allocation of portfolio in the Union Cabinet, she simply replied that she did not recollect any thing.

13.21    The Committee then desired to know that after she was made witness by the CBI, the investigating agency must have played the tapes to her and whether she agreed with the conversation or contradicted it.  In response Ms. Radia stated:

“Sir, the matter is sub-judice”.

She further stated:

“I am glad that the investigating agencies went into the details.  I am glad that they heard my conversations in the context that they needed to be heard.  I am glad that they looked at documents and papers that were submitted in the context that had to be given and not taken out of context just because a magazine chose to carry something in a particular way.  The magazine would have chosen to carry something in a particular way because we may not entertain the magazine.  Today, the media is driven in a completely different way.  It is driven bottom-line.  It is sensationalist.  So, we have taken a view to approach things slightly differently”.

13.22    The Committee then querried as to whether she meant to say that both the magazines were driven by some extraneous consideration.  In reply, Ms. Radia submitted:

“I think, there is a conspiracy.  I believe, there is a corporate conspiracy and I have seen it”.

Asked to point out the conspirators, she replied:

“Anybody who would not want competition”.

13.23    The Committee then desired to know whether she was performing a public relation service or actually lobbying for her client to get them certain advantages.  The Committee also categorically asked whether carrying Tata’s personal had written letter to Mr. Karunanidhi was to part of her job, according to the mandate.  In reply, Ms. Radia submitted:

“We are not lobbyists.  It is not our job to lobby.  Yes, it is our job to talk to various stakeholders, but that does not necessarily mean that we are lobbying for our client.  We are simply communicating a point of view”.

On the issue of carrying Mr. Tata’s personal letter, she clarified:

“…our role, as defined in our mandate, is to communicate our client’s point of view.  Carrying the letter was to hand over the letter to  Shri Karunanidhi on behalf of Shri Tata…”

13.24    Asked to state whether her conversation with Ms. Barkha Dutt did not give an impression that she was lobbying.  In response, Ms. Radia stated:

“I think if you listen to the conversation in the context that they need to be listened to, everybody is discussing who is becoming what cabinet minister and what they are doing at that time.  I do not think it was anything different from watching TV channels or watching new reports.  Giving a particular point of view, we were simply asking information from journalists who were in touch with political people, who were on the political beat, who had information or who may know things because they have been reporting certain things in a particular manner that they seem to know things.  All we were doing was just asking information from them”.

13.25    The Committee then asked whether the conversation did not indicate that Ms. Dutt was leading her up the garden path.  Ms. Radia replied:

“I do not think that anyone was leading anyone up the garden path.  I think, we were just having a conversation about who is becoming the Cabinet Minister and I was relaying to her the anxiety of what our client had lived through in the previous years, prior to that.  I think all I was giving her was information as I knew it about a particular person and the chemistry that existed between my client…”.

13.26    On being asked to state categorically and truthfully as to whether the tapes were genuine or not, Ms. Radia submitted:

“At least the tapes that I have heard from the investigating agencies are genuine tapes”.

13.27    Asked to furnish the list of the conversations that were played to her by the CBI, Ms. Radia deposed:

“Sir, we will write to the concerned agency and we will ask  them, if this is permissible under law.  We will also make a reference of the PAC”.

13.28    The Committee then asked Shri Ratan N. Tata whether he had heard the Radia Tapes.  Shri Tata submitted in evidence in the affirmative.  Asked to authenticate whether it was his voice in the conversation with Ms. Neira Radia, Shri Tata replied in the affirmative.  He also submitted that it was absolutely the voice of Ms. Radia too.  When asked to state whether the tapes were manipulated or doctored, Shri Tata replied in the negative….

13.35    When the Committee asked Shri Vir Sanghvi and Ms. Barkha Dutt, who also figured in the Radia tapes, about the authenticity of their conversation as published in the magazines, both of them in separate written communication stated that they had challenged, objected and protested against etc.  But none of them had so far initiated any legal proceedings.

***

On the role of media and whistleblowers, the PAC says:

“The Committee note that the  brazen  irregularities in the allotment of 2G spectrum and UAS  licences were unravelled  by some investigative journalists much before the Radia tapes  came into the public domain.

“A journalist who played a stellar role in exposing the irregularities, on being asked about  the sources of his information,  replied that the information was collected through the RTIs and from some public-spirited insiders.

“The publishers  of the news magazines who first published the  tapes,  testified  that they were  actuated  by their journalistic duty to reveal the truth and the irrepressible urge of public  interest.

“The Committee appreciate the exemplary professional job done by these journalists who despite the imminent possibility of the serious hazards both physical and financial undertook the venture they embarked upon.

“When the Committee sought the response of a senior journalist about these taped conversations he candidly deposed that what they did was utterly unprofessional.  He  conceded  that  the journalists do  speak  to various sources as it is their job  to   fathom out and reveal  the truth but  they ought not  get involved in lobbying for any one and certainly  the taped conversations show that they transgressed   the line of propriety – the ‘lakshman rekha’.  More so, senior journalists as they were, they knew when they made such a transgression….”

***

Text: courtesy Tehelka

Also read: Scribe says tribe crossed line in Niira Radia tapes

External reading: “Indian media’s conspiracy of silence”

* Dislcosures apply

Scribe says tribe crossed line in Niira Radia tapes

28 April 2011

Several print and television journalists found their voices on the Niira Radia tapes. Some expressed remorse at such a cosy relationship with the lobbyist; some like you-know-who brazened it out.

Now, The Hindu reports that one senior unnamed scribe who was caught on tape lobbying has candidly admitted that what they did was “utterly unprofessional”.

The paper reports that the draft report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which went into the 2G spectrum allocation deal, has this paragraph under the heading “role of media and whistleblowers”:

“When the committee sought the response of a senior journalist about these taped conversations, he candidly deposed that what they [journalists] did was utterly unprofessional. He conceded that journalists do speak to various sources as it is their job to fathom out and reveal the truth but they ought not to get involved in lobbying for anyone and certainly the taped conversations show that they transgressed the line of propriety – the ‘Lakshman rekha.’”

Here’s brief list of the journalists who were on Radia tapes: Barkha Dutt (NDTV), Vir Sanghvi (Hindustan Times), Prabhu Chawla (then India Today), K. Venugopal (Hindu Business Line), Rahul Joshi (Economic Times), M.K. Venu (then Economic Times), Jaideep Bose (The Times of India), Surajeet Das Gupta (Business Standard), G. Ganapathy Subramaniam (Economic Times), Navika Kumar (Times Now), Jehangir Pocha (NewsX), V. Shankkar Aiyar (then India Today)….

Read the full article: Scribe admits ‘unprofessional’ work

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Also read: Vir Sanghvi & Barkha Dutt: ‘We were targetted’

Did Radia tapes imapct journos’ Padma awards?

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

Barkha Dutt tarred by pure malice: Khushwant Singh

When Rajdeep Sardesai got it left, right and centre

Is it really so difficult to say, sorry, maaf karo?

Why an editor took two empty suitcases to Libya

14 March 2011

There is little doubt, as the Niira Radia tapes showed, that journalistic integrity in India is at an all-time low—despite the manifold increase in salaries—especially since the liberalisation process began in 1991 and the notional capital of the media moved from Bombay to Delhi.

Whispers of editors who own power plants and mines, of reporters who are joint venture partners in shopping complexes and apartment blocks, of honchos who buy helicopters, fix arms deals, etc, are now so common that it barely registers on the shock-o-meter these days.

Worse, the epidemic has spread far and wide, from beyond Bombay and Delhi to the hinterland, to the State capitals and big cities, where journalists, cutting across language barriers, have mastered the art of “monetising” their positions and visiting cards.

But, no names!

Working under the Khushwant Singh motto that dead men can’t sue, and using the ongoing eruption in the Middle East as the peg, Outlook editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta drops a couple of names in the latest issue of the weekly newsmagazine:

“Now that Muammar Gaddafi is the flavour of the month, let me recount the story of two flamboyant Indian editors, R.K. Karanjia (Blitz) and Ayub Syed (Current) who, alas, are no longer with us. Both made annual visits to Gaddafi’s tent in Tripoli.

“Ayub, who could be disarmingly candid, once mentioned to me that he was off to Libya to meet the great leader. “I never forget to take two empty suitcases with me when I meet him and on the way back I always stay for one day at Zurich.”

“Russi was much more cunning and made no such admission, but he also went on his annual pilgrimage and came back loaded. At that time these were the only two journalists/editors who had direct contact with Gaddafi.

“Incidentally, it was one of these gentlemen who came back with the offer Gaddafi made to Indira Gandhi: sell me the bomb technology and India will never be short of oil.

“One afternoon Ayub was buying me lunch. He looked relaxed and seemed in no hurry to get back to the office. I was. When I asked him to call for the bill, he said, “What is your hurry? For the next two weeks I have no work. My issues are full of The Green Book.” (This was a Gaddafi-authored manual on how to run a country undergoing a perpetual people’s revolution). And then he laughed uproariously.”

Also read: Russy K. Karanjia: rest in peace

Sudheendra Kulkarni: ‘A creative, courageous, commited editor’

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?

‘Indians trust magazines* more than newspapers’

11 February 2011

Trust in the Indian media is down sharply by 15 percentage points over the last two years. One out of every two Indians distrusts what they read, see, and listen but—surprise, surprise, OK, no surprise, no surprise!—trust in magazines* is higher than for newspapers, TV news or radio.

These, in short, are the major highlights of the 2011 survey by Edelman, the world’s largest public relations firm. The 11th such survey conducted, the media is the biggest loser in India among the four sectors surveyed, other three sectors being business, government and NGOs.

There were 5,075 respondents in 23 countries for the annual Edelman Trust Barometer. The India section of the survey was conducted between October 11 and November 24, 2010 before the Niira Radia tapes altered the perception of media personnel even more in the eyes of news consumers.

Trust in Indian magazines is at 95% against 93% for newspapers, 90% for TV news, and 81% for radio. The barometer reported a 25% dip in trust in business magazines and TV news, and a 21% dip in trust in newspapers, in 2009, in the wake of paid news, private treaties, medianet and other infirmities.

Online search engines like Google command 93% trust, indicating that most people prefer to search for the facts themselves and trust search engines to help them. Corporate communications such as press releases, reports, and emails show trust levels of 86%.

Interesting if true.

Two years ago, the national election survey 2009 by the Lokniti team of the centre for study of developing societies (CSDS) found that 45% Indians greatly trusted what they read in newspapers, and a similar number somewhat trusted newspaper reports.

* Disclosures apply

Also read: If you trust polls, trust in India dips

One more claimant for the 2G spectrum scam

8 February 2011

It is the year of the lord, 2011, but it is still not too late to claim credit for the 2G spectrum allocation scam.

Nearly a week after the disgraced telecom minister A. Raja was arrested, marking the end of the beginning of the scam, today’s Indian Express carries a five-ad campaign saluting its sister business daily, The Financial Express, for its role in busting the scandal that takes a new dimension every single day.

Using headlines from pieces carried by it in the October 2009 to November 2010 period, the low-circulation FE proclaims its punchline: “It pays to know before those in the know”.

Two FE reporters— associate editor Rishi Raj and senior special correspondent Anandita Sigh Manhotia—get their spot under the sun for the stories, as indeed does FE managing editor M.K. Venu for an opinion piece.

# 2009: The Financial Express exposes the 2G scam

# October 24, 2009: “DoT deviated from TRAI’s notes and cherry-picked its counsel”

# October 26, 2009: “Raja faced objections from then DoT secy Mathur

# November 6, 2009: “CBI now exposes procedural lapse by telecom dept”

# November 9 and 12, 2009: “Raja tweaked norms to help Swan, Unitech”; “Spectrum of Raja’s innocence”

# November 16, 2010: CAG indictment nails Raja’s lies

Those who came in late will be pleased to know that (so far), The Pioneer, The Times of India, CNN-IBN and Times Now have put their hands up.

Mail Today had crowned Janata Party president Subramaniam Swamy and rediff.com chose the (BJP-aligned) member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, for exposing the scam that now seems to have reached outer space with the S-band scam reported by The Hindu and its business daily, Business Line.

Image: courtesy The Indian Express

Also read: Everybody loves (to claim credit for) an expose

Times Now. Times Now. Times Now. Times Now.

Journalist’s house raided in 2G scam

Nakkheeran journo denies wife worked for Radia

Have Tatas blacklisted The Times of India again?

The Pioneer journalist who brought A. Raja to book

‘Why Barkha Dutt needn’t return her Padma Sri’

5 February 2011

Anurag Batra, editor-in-chief of the exchange4media group, in the industry journal, Impact:

Prabhu Chawla was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2003. What’s fascinating is that between 2006 and 2009, six journalists were awarded the Padma Sri: Sucheta Dalal, Mrinal Pande, Vinod Dua, Rajdeep Sardesai, Barkha Dutt and Abhay Chhajlani, and one Padma Bhushan, Shekhar Gupta in 2009.

“Three out of the six Padma Sris were awarded in 2008 itself, the penultimate year of the UPA government before the elections in 2009. I remember laughing out loud when the awards were announced, as these leading journalists held debates on their respective channels about the authenticity of these awards. Not to mention that when they got it, nobody denied them or denounced them, instead the channels hailed their achievements.

“The latest on the grapevine is that the AIADMK and a few other parties are running a campaign to get Barkha Dutt to give back her Padma Sri award because of the Niira Radia controversy. I personally don’t see the point in that as in my view, Barkha has done good work in the past and continues to do so and should be judged on that. I also feel that journalists have always been influencers so there is nothing new in that.”

Also read: Padma Shri VD, Padma Shri RDS and Padma Shri BD

2008: Why Rajdeep and Barkha must decline the Padma Sri

2009: Third highest civilian honour for Shekhar Gupta

2010: Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria gets Padma Bhushan

2011: Padma Awards for Homai Vyarawala, T.J.S. George

 

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