Posts Tagged ‘Rajeev Chandrasekhar’

A Kannada paper breaks RG’s code of silence

17 February 2014

Screen_Shot_2014-02-16_at_9.26.42_am

Even before he sat down last month with Kalpesh Yagnik of Dainik Bhaskar and Arnab Goswami of Times Now for one-on-one interviews, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi had met Editors in Delhi off and on, more off than on.

These meetings were long, relaxed,  informal but strictly off the record.

Smart phones and cameras had to be deposited with the security guards before entering the venue, where on each chair lay a piece of cardboard with a pencil to take notes.

Attendees were free to report what was uttered without directly quoting Rahul Gandhi or suggesting that he was the source. So, “highly placed Congress sources said…” kind of stories were legion even if nothing earthshaking had been revealed.

The arrangement worked neatly in Delhi where the deference to power borders on stenographic servility.

Not so in the rest of the country.

As “The Candidate who doesn’t say he is The Candidate” goes around the country spearheading his party’s election campaign, his media meisters are enabling journalists from the  “regional” media to come face to face with Gandhi. And the results are not always to script.

In Karnataka, on Saturday, Rahul Gandhi met Bangalore’s editors informally “not for reporting“—and if Ajay Maken & Co expected stenographic servility in cyber-coolie capital, they were in for a surprise.

Kannada Prabha, the daily newspaper that mobile phone baron turned media baron Rajeev Chandrasekhar bought from the New Indian Express group, front-paged Rahul Gandhi’s interaction with the media, accompanied by a photograph shot with a cell phone.

Editor-in-Chief Vishweshwar Bhat recorded his impressions of the 45-minute meeting, with a three-deck headline saying it all: “It’s nice to see and hear Rahul’s words, but they are impractical. He is a good purchaser/ customer of his own ideas”.

On his Twitter account, Bhat wrote: “Rahul freely and excessively used the words, system and process. After 20, I lost and stopped the counting.”

And over a six-column story that spills on to page 8, Bhat provides his interpretation of all Gandhi said.

“When he repeatedly spoke of inner-party democracy, and the requirement for a new atmosphere, a new system and a new culture in the party, The Times of India‘s Washington correspondent Chidanand Rajghatta (who hails from Bangalore) said to Rahul:

“We have been hearing the same words, since the party’s Bombay national executive meeting, for the last 25 years. But the party has remained the same and the dinosaurs have survived.”

“For a moment, Rahul was stumped, and then said maybe Chidu shouldn’t have used the word ‘dinosaurs’.”

For the record, Rahul Gandhi held a similar interaction in Bhubaneshwar on February 9, which one participant described as “super-boring“.

Also read: Is “Modi Media” biased against Rahul Gandhi?

‘Media’s Modi-fixation needs medical attention’

Mani Shankar Aiyar launches into Arnab Goswami

A “licence” for journalists is not a ‘sine qua non’

21 August 2013

B_Id_411914_Cartoon

Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari‘s proposal for a “common examination” for journalism students, with a “licence” to practice journalism at the end, gets the full treatment (a pocket cartoon and an editorial) from the Indian Express:

“There are enough closed societies where Tewari’s suggestion would appear commonplace, where governments are unconcerned by the dilemmas and predicaments that can follow from the publishing of ostensibly objectionable material because they seek to manipulate the information that is put out in the first place, ensuring in the process that nobody may presume to speak truth to power.

“Is it his contention that India find its place among them?

“Even as Parliament makes a justified claim to keeping the internal concerns of political parties out of the purview of the right to information, given their greater import to a healthy democracy, the minister cannot be unaware of the undemocratic content in his suggestion.

“It would be pointless to allow him an evasion by accosting him with questions about the specifics, such as: In the age of mass communication, what are the activities that a journalist’s licence would control? Blogging? Tweeting? A post on YouTube? A telephone text? And such as: why and how is it an urgent task before government to keep a check on journalism schools?

“The media today are diverse in their commitment to good and responsible journalism. Suggestions like Tewari’s can be seen as attempts to meddle, and hit the slippery slope to patronage and censorship.”

On Twitter, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, the Rajya Sabha member who owns two news channels, Asianet News in Malayalam and Suvarna News in Kannada, too punched holes in Tewari’s proposal:

The Biju Janata Dal Lok Sabha MP, Baijayant Jay Panda, whose family owns a cable television network and OTV, a news channel in Orissa, wrote:

Cartoon: courtesy E.P. Unny/ The Indian Express

Read the full editorial: Slipping on the slope

Also read: Poll: common exam, licences for journalists?

External reading: How licensing journalists threatens independent news media

Asianet journos, editors must declare assets

7 December 2012

indianexpress

On the day the Indian Express in New Delhi has exposed how the “paid news” rot runs deep in BJP-ruled Chhattisgarh, Rajeev Chandrasekhar‘s Asianet News Network (ANN) has announced steps “to restore confidence in media” and urged all other media companies to follow suit:

***

PRESS RELEASE: In the current backdrop of some cases and allegations of Paid News, extortion in some isolated media companies, the spotlight is on the Media brands and the professionals working in them.

Asianet News Network (ANN) believes that for the large part, the Indian media and the Indian journalist are worthy of the trust that is reposed in them by the millions of Indians that consume and trust the news from their favorite sources.

ANN already has a strong Code of Conduct and Ethics policy in place, which is an intrinsic part of the employment contract of every team member.

Nevertheless, recent incidents have turned the spotlight on the media’s conduct and values. So it’s necessary to do more to earn further the trust of Indian news consumers.

In this connection, ANN’s three news brands—Asianet News (Malayalam), Suvarna News 24×7 and Kannada Prabha—have today announced that they would add the following to its already robust ethics policy and editorial and newsroom guidelines:

a.    Will disclose the ad sales and revenues during the months leading up to and during elections
b.    Will disclose all ad sales and revenues accruing from political parties and politicians
c.    Will ensure a mandatory disclosure of assets of senior editorial staff

Suresh Selvaraj, CEO, ANNPL said today “Our news brands Suvarna News, Asianet News and Kannada Prabha enjoy high credibility amongst our viewers and readers. Our leadership position in our markets is a direct consequence of the high trust in our news and in our team. These initiatives show that we will continue to do whatever it takes to increase the credibility and reach of our news coverage, investing further in not just infrastructure, technology and talent – but also in ethics and values.”

Illustration: courtesy C.R. Sasikumar/ The Indian Express

Also read: South media baron among top political donors

Media baron donates most to parties after Birlas

‘Editors and senior journalists must declare assets’

Editor declares assets, liabilities on live TV

Income, outgo, assets, liabilities, profits, loss

South media baron among top political donors

11 September 2012

Mobile phone turned media baron and member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, continues to be a prominent donor to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, according to a list compiled by the asociation for democratic reforms (ADR).

Chandrasekhar, an independent member of the Rajya Sabha elected with BJP support, who owns the Malayalam news channel Asianet News and the Kannada news channel Suvarna News besides the Kannada daily Kannada Prabha, donated Rs 10 crore to the BJP in 2009-10 through two Corporation Bank cheques issued in the name of Asianet V Holding Pvt Ltd (address: Jay Chambers,  Service Road, Mumbai).

Simultaneously, Asianet TV Holdings Pvt Ltd operating from an identical address (address: Jay Chambers, service road, Vile Parle, Mumbai 400057) donated Rs 2.5 crore to the Congress in 2009-10 through a Corporation Bank (M.G. Road, Bangalore) cheque.

The general electoral trust of the salt-to-cellphone major Tatas, the Gujarat power company Torrent and Bharati electoral trust of the telecom company Airtel top the list of donors. The documents were procured by ADR under the right to information (RTI).

Also read: Media baron donates most to parties after Birlas

Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?

1 September 2012

The home in Hubli of Muthi-ur-Rahman Siddiqui, the ‘Deccan Herald’ reporter arrested in Bangalore on Thursday for allegedly being involved in a plot whose targets included an editor, a columnist and a newspaper publisher (Photo: courtesy Praja Vani)

For the second day running, most newspapers in Bangalore refrain from naming the editor, columnist and newspaper publisher who were allegedly the target of a failed assassination attempt, “masterminded”, according to the police, by a reporter working with the Bangalore-based Deccan Herald.

(The first information report (FIR) filed on the arrests names the three targets: Vishweshwar Bhat, Pratap Simha and Vijay Sankeshwar, respectively.)

The only news organisations to give play to the names of the three media persons was Suvarna News, the 24×7 Kannada news channel owned by the member of Parliament, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and of which Bhat is also editor-in-chief, which repeatedly flashed their names.

The Kannada news channel TV9 ran a news item on Thursday night which showed Sankeshwar repeatedly sobbing on discovering his name on the hitlist but has avoided naming Bhat and Simha in news bulletins and other programmes.  (TV9 and Suvarna News are competitors.)

***

The Times of India, generally not the first newspaper which reports stories on journalists, bucks the trend (graphic, above):

Prathap Simha, a journalist with Kannada Prabha, was a target along with his editor Vishveshwar Bhat. The suspects allegedly wanted to kill Simha because he had written a book in Kannada on the Gujarat CM titled “Narendra ModiYaaru Thuliyada Haadi” (Narendra Modi – The Untrodden Road) in 2008.

“A laptop seized from a suspect contains this book and a picture of Simha interviewing Modi,” a senior police officer said. When contacted, Simha said: “I have also written a book on Muhammed Ali Jinnah in Kannada.”

However, Vijaya Karnataka, the Kannada daily that The Times of India group bought from Vijay Sankeshwar six years ago, extends no such courtesy. And this, although Vishweshwar Bhat was the editor of the paper, Pratap Simha its star columnist and Sankeshwar its owner.

Ditto Praja Vani, the Kannada daily owned from the Deccan Herald stable.

To its credit, Praja Vani carries a long, 14-paragraph story from Hubli, the hometown of DH reporter Siddiqui (see picture, above), even as the arrests look poised to become a human rights’ issue.

In its story, Praja Vani reports the humble circumstances from which Siddiqui rose to be a reporter at Deccan Herald.

“The money he sent home each month was what sustained us siblings (three brothers and two sisters). The financial condition of our family improved only when Siddiqui joined work…. Since there is no TV set at our home, we came to know of his arrest thanks to our neighbours,” his sister Shamshad Begum said.

In a related story, Vijaya Karnataka suggests that another journalist may be picked up in connection with the foiled attack. (Market leaders Vijaya Karnataka and Praja Vani compete with Kannada Prabha, where editor Bhat and columnist Simha now work, and with Vijaya Vani, the new paper launched by Sankeshwar.)

***

Although the motive to kill Bhat, Simha and Sankeshwar was unclear on day one, Deccan Herald quotes anonymous police sources on day two:

“They (the sources) also claimed that they were about to execute one of their targets, a columnist of a Kannada daily allegedly harbouring an anti-minority bias. The police, who were tracking the modules for the past couple of months, had caught wind of the plot and busted the module.”

The Hindu has a clarification:

In a report from Bangalore published in the issue of August 31, headlined “Journalist among 11 arrested for ‘plotting terror in Karnataka’,” the description of some journalists who were purportedly targeted by the alleged plotters as ones “known for their virulent anti-minority columns” was unfair and unwarranted, and escaped gatekeeping mechanisms that are in place to keep such editorialising comments out of the news columns of this newspaper. That description, as well as the loose and imprecise reference to the “divergent ideologies” of two terrorist organisations are regretted and may be deemed as withdrawn. — The Editor

Also, in a surprising first, The Times of India has a rare good word for rival Deccan Herald, where Siddiqui worked:

“Hard disks from the computers used by the journalist at his workplace and other documents have been seized. The employers of the journalist have cooperated with us,” police sources said.

Also read: Bangalore journo in plot to kill editor, columnist?

Sugata Raju is new editor of ‘Vijaya Karnataka’

15 May 2012

Vijaya Karnataka, the Kannada daily from The Times of India group, has a new editor: Sugata Srinivasaraju, the former associate editor, south, of Outlook* magazine. He takes over from Vasant Nadiger who was officiating as editor following the sudden death of E. Raghavan in March.

Raghavan had taken over VK from the paper’s longstanding editor Vishweshwar Bhat, who has since moved to Kannada Prabha, the Kannada daily owned by the mobile phone baron turned parliamentarian, Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

ToI bought Vijaya Karnataka in 2006 from the truck operator Vijay Sankeshwar, who launched a new title called Vijaya Vani following the end of the five-year no-compete clause with Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd. Vijaya Karnataka also faces growing competition from former market leader Praja Vani (from the Deccan Herald group).

* Disclosures apply

Photograph: courtesy Outlook

Also read: Ex-TOI, ET editor E. Raghavan passes away

Is Vijaya Karnataka ready for a Dalit editor?

Journalists vs journalist in Bangalore free-for-all

11 April 2012

The page one story in 'Kannada Prabha' on Tuesday, in which a journalist claims to have broken a story before a Bangalore tabloid editor who is claiming credit for it.

PALINI R. SWAMY writes from Bangalore: A veritable dogfight has broken out in Bangalore between a 24×7 Kannada news channel owned by the MP, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, and the owner-editor of a weekly Kannada newspaper.

On the surface, the dispute is over credits for a recently released Kannada film.

But, deep down, the spat has served as a platform for some unabashed shadow-boxing between two leading Kannada journalists that has already seen plenty of bile being spilled on the tabloid editor’s parentage, his sexual exploits and financial dealings, not to mention his journalistic vocabulary and targets.

And everybody from film folk to co-journalists have been happily indulging in a slugfest that has also become a TRP battle between the two leading Kannada news channels.

***

When the Kannada film “Bheema Teeradalli” opened last Friday, Ravi Belagere, the editor of the popular Hi! Bangalore  tabloid popped up on the No.1 Kannada news channel TV9.

He claimed it was he who had unearthed the story of Chandappa Harijan, on whom the film had allegedly been based, but he had neither been consulted by the film makers nor acknowledged in the credits or compensated for it.

All through the TV9 show, the film’s producer, director and actor hemmed and hawwed on where they had suddenly found the inspiration for the film while Belagere, a regular face on Ramoji Rao’s ETV, tore into them.

***

The moment the two-hour TV9 show ended on Saturday, the scene of action shifted to Suvarna News 24×7, Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s news channel whose editor-in-chief is Vishweshwar Bhat and whose friendship with Ravi Belagere has seen better times.

(Belagere used to write a weekly column for Vijaya Karnataka edited by Bhat and Bhat played a guest role in a film produced by Belagere that didn’t quite see the light of day.)

Ravi Belagere (centre), editor of Hi! Bangalore, with Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha editor-in-chief, Vishweshwar Bhat (left), in happier times

***

For months, the two Bangalore journalist-friends turned foes had been at each other throats, more in private than in public. It’s been open season since the film row broke.

On one night on Suvarna News, Pratap Simha, the news editor of Kannada Prabha (a Kannada daily owned by Chandrasekhar and edited by Bhat) and who had been the attacked in a cover story in Belagere’s publication earlier, threw a series of challenges to the tabloid editor.

On another night, the publisher of a competing tabloid pulled out love letters allegedly written by Belagere. A telephone caller, who claimed he was a police inspector, called Belagere “loafer” and “420″ on-air.

***

Ravi Belagere again reappeared on TV9 to explain the many photographs and videos he had shot to prove his “intellectual property rights” over the disputed film, but the film’s key men had parked themselves in the Suvarna studios.

In between, Kannada Prabha jumped in to the action.

On page one on Tuesday, it led with the account of another journalist T.K. Malagonda, who claimed he had written about Chandappa Harijan long before Belagere, and that he had provided all the information and photographs to him and that he had not been acknowledged for his effort—the very claim Belagere was making.

On Tuesday night, Suvarna News went one step further. As the two-hour show went on, a crawler ran on TV screens: “If who have been harassed by Ravi Belagere, please dial 080-40977111.”

A long and famous friendship, it seemed, had come to an end.

Editor declares assets, liabilities on live TV

27 February 2012

Even as a question mark hangs over the heads of many editors and journalists, H.R. Ranganath, the chairman and managing director of the newly launched Kannada news channel, Public TV, has declared his assets and liabilities on live television, with his tax consultant sitting alongside him and reading out the list.

Ranganath—former editor of the New Indian Express owned daily Kannada Prabha and the Rajeev Chandrasekhar owned news channel Suvarna News—says he provided the list of his assets and liabilities to his proprietors at his previous ports of call each year, but was only now putting it in the public domain.

Any piece of property over and above those listed by him can be auctioned and the proceeds used for public use, declares Ranganath.

The editor’s assets, as read out by his tax consultant of 15 years, Vijay Rajesh:

# A gift from his mother of four guntas of land in Arkalgud, Hassan

# 1991-92: Partnership in a plot of 13,980 square feet in Mysore

# 2002-03: A house constructed on a 30×40 site in Bangalore

# 2005: A Hyundai Accent car bought on loan

# 2009: A Honda Activa scooter

# 2011: A second-hand 1975 jeep bought last year

# 11,000 shares in Mindtree, 12 shares in Reliance Industries, 15 shares in Kairon

# 250 grams of gold belonging to his wife, 100 grams gifted at the time of marriage, the rest bought over the last 20 years.

Also read: Income, outgo, assets, liabilities, profit, loss

Aditya Nigam‘Editors and senior journalists must declare assets’

***

Is there room for another Kannada news channel?

This is your chief minister and here is the news

Porngate: How BJP MLA blacked out TV, papers

9 February 2012

A battle royale has broken out between the two leading Kannada news channels over who broke the porn video scandal, involving ministers in the BJP’s “gateway to the south”, Karnataka.

Market leader TV9 ran a news item on its 9 pm primetime news show on Wednesday, complete with a visual of its head honcho, Mahendra Mishra. The news item contained an interview with its cameraman in the legislature who caught the ministers prying into their cellphones and who then sent off an SMS to the reporter, Laxman Hoogar.

Not to be outdone, the Rajeev Chandrasekhar owned Suvarna News claimed it was the first with the story. All evening it ran news of the scandal with mnemonics and a “super” shouting “Naave First” (we were first). Its news item had one of the errant ministers referring to a Suvarna News reporter by name, which the channel played in a loop as to validate its claim.

All this breast-beating comes a day ahead of the launch of another news channel, Public TV, to be edited by former Suvarna News head, H.R. Ranganath.

More importantly, The Times of India reports that one of the three ministers caught with his pants down, Laxman Savadi, ensured that visuals of his watching the porn visuals was blacked out in his constituency, Athani, by ordering that electricity be cut off.

No newspaper of any language reached the town as most bundles were booked and purchased by his supporters en route.

Image: courtesy The Times of India

Also read: One more claimant for 2G spectrum scam

Everybody loves (to claim credit for) an expose

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

Media baron donates most to parties after Birlas

11 January 2012

The Economic Times has run a list of companies who made legal donations to political parties in 2009-10 based on a  list compiled by the association for democratic reforms (ADR).

At no.2—ahead of even the Tatas and ITC—with a total donation of Rs 12.5 crore (Rs 10 crore for the BJP and Rs 2.5 crore for the Congress) is Asianet TV holdings, of the mobile phone operator turned media baron Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Chandrasekhar, an independent member of the Rajya Sabha elected with BJP support, owns the Asianet News channel in Kerala and the Suvarna News channel in Karnataka, and recently bought the Kannada Prabha newspaper from the New Indian Express group.

Chandrasekhar who also owned several general entertainment channels in Malayalam, Kannada and Telugu entered into a joint venture with Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

A Reuters backgrounder contains this operative paragraph:

“Asianet Communications Limited, which is a joint venture with Asianet TV Holdings Private Limited, was formed to provide television services for South Indian audiences. The joint venture consists of the Company’s (News Corp’s) approximate 81% interest in the Tamil language channel Vijay and the Company’s (News Corp’s) approximate 75% interest in the Malayalam language channels Asianet and Asianet Plus, the Kannada language channel Suvarna and the Telugu language channel Sitara.”

An ADR analysis (page 8 of 28) pegs Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s total assets at Rs 37 crore—Rs 12 crore in movable assets and Rs 25 crore in immovable assets.

Also read: Rajeev Chandrasekhar buying a Malayalam daily?

Rajeev Chandrasekhar eyeing Deccan Herald?

Everybody loves to claim credit for the 2G expose

10 media barons in India Today power list of 50

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