Posts Tagged ‘Ravi Dhariwal’

ʎlısɐǝ sıɥʇ pɐǝɹ plnoɔ noʎ ɟı ‘suoıʇɐlnʇɐɹƃuoɔ*

15 March 2013

Since its sesquicentennial 25 years ago, under bossman Samir Jain’s helmsmanship, The Times of India has pioneered several editorial and marketing “initiatives”, all of which are scorned at first by the competition and then quietly copied.

On the eve of its dodransbicentennial, after brother Vineet Jain told The New Yorker last year that he was in the advertising business not news business, ToI has run this ad printed the right side up and uʍop ǝpısdn pǝʇuıɹd sʍǝu ǝɥʇ.

So, whose interests come first for the newspaper, the advertiser’s or the reader’s, is not difficult to guess.

ToI CEO Ravi Dhariwal told the South Asia Media Summit in Islamabad recently that the paper’s readers actually welcomed such innovations and looked forward to it: “The reader wants change.”

¿uʍop ǝpısdn pǝʇuıɹd ǝɹɐ sɹǝdɐdsʍǝu ǝloɥʍ ǝɹoɟǝq ɹǝƃuol ɥɔnɯ ʍoɥ

* How to type upside down

Also read: Selling the soul or sustaining the business?

Selling the soul or sustaining the business?—II?

Will Britannia pay TOI for such ‘bad news’ in ads?

The masthead is no longer as sacred as it used to be

‘Talking ads’ in The Hindu and The Times of India

Only the weather section is not sold these days

The Ambani brothers, TOI, Medianet & paid news

30 October 2012

The “reverse-swing” done on Zee News by Jindal Steel is one of the most intriguing media stories in recent memory.

The steel company says it is suing the Subhash Chandra-owned network for Rs 200 crore for the demand of Rs 100 crore in lieu of advertisements allegedly made by its editors, Sudhir Chaudhary and Sameer Ahluwalia, to not telecast shows in relation to the coal allocation scandal.

In turn, Zee says it will sue Jindal Steel for Rs 150 crore for defaming the network by holding a press conference, releasing a CD containing video evidence of the reverse-sting, and making allegations of extortion against it and its editorial staff.

Meanwhile, The Times of India group, whose business paper The Economic Times and its advertorial supplements like Bombay Times and Delhi Times, were happily mentioned in passing by Chaudhary and Ahluwalia as indulging in “paid news” in the Jindal “reverse-sting” says Zee will hear from them.

Not surprisingly, Times CEO Ravi Dhariwal was on the mat at a CII event on Monday, with Amit Khanna of Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Entertainment saying his company had been asked to approach Medianet by TOI for coverage of an film festival.

The last bit of news, published in the gossip column of the Indian Express on Tuesday, has been happily reproduced by First Post, whose parent organisation TV 18 is now part of the Mukesh Ambani group, as evidence of the “media-corporate war”.

Image: courtesy The Indian Express

Samir Jain, Vineet Jain & TOI in The New Yorker

1 October 2012

The October 8 issue of The New Yorker carries a nine-page article on The Times of India by its renowned media critic Ken Auletta in the clearest indication yet that the Times group is bracing for an IPO.

Titled “Citizens Jain”, after the brothers Samir Jain and Vineet Jain, the piece examines why India’s newspaper industry is thriving. (Orson WellesCitizen Kane was a salute to the megalomania of William Randolph Hearst)

A nine-word caption at the bottom of the first page of the article provides the answer: “Their success is a product of an unorthodox philosophy.”

***

Auletta who spent several days in Bombay and Delhi in July reporting the story*, writes that Vineet’s older brother Samir reached out to him two years ago in New York.

“He told me about the unusual ad-sales strategies he had implemented and of his newspapers’ vibrant growth. If I visited India, I asked, would he talk with me about his business?

“He said he would.

“He didn’t. Although Vineet and Times executives generously cooperated, Samir declined to meet.

”The reason he probably doesn’t give interviews is because he doesn’t want the fame,’ Vineet told me. ‘It doesn’t drive him. He doesn’t want to be covered in newspapers and talked about. He’d rather be humble’.”

***

The New Yorker piece is peppered with anecdotes on Samir Jain narrated by media professionals and Times staffers.

# Namita Gokhale recounts sitting next to Samir Jain at a dinner. Jain tells Gokhale, ‘I think history doesn’t exist and if I were Prime Minister I would ban the study of history.’ When Gokhale responds that she would give him two tight slaps and a kick and if he didn’t remember, she would agree there was no history, Samir slips away and ignores her the rest of the evening.

# Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, says that whenever he meets Samir Jain, he usually hands him underlined copies of Hindu scriptures and “affectionately” admonishes him that his publication is too dark.

# The inspiration for Samir Jain’s innovative pricing strategies was the zoo in Calcutta, his hometown. As he walked by on a Monday, normally a slow day after a busy weekened, he was surprised to see a long line. To boost attendance, the zoo had lowered its admission price for the day, he learned, which gave him an idea: one day a week, on Wednesdays, he would halve the price of the paper.

# Times CEO Ravi Dhariwal says the first filter Samir Jain uses in any decision is, ‘Will this be spiritually OK? Will I be able to go to my guru? He discusses a lot with his guru. And if his guru doesn’t bless it, I think he just drops it.’

***

In contrast, the more outgoing Vineet is all first-person.

# “Both of us think out of the box,” Vineet Jain told me on a recent afternoon. “We don’t go by the traditional way of doing business. We’re not in the newspaper business, we are in the advertising business…. If I say I am in the news business, then you’ll not do shampoo. If I say I’m in the news business, then you won’t do entertainment supplements. If you are editorial minded, you will make all the wrong decisions.”

# Although the brothers insist they do not determine content, Vineed tells Auletta, ‘I am the content architect.’ Vineett takes credit for the idea of running small, boxed editorials, under the rubric Times View, alongside some front-page stories, as a way of proposing a solution, he said, and because ‘the editorial page is only read by five per cent of readers.”

# When President Barack Obama visited India, Vineet declined an invitation for a state dinner. “What’ll I do?” he said to me. “It’s just meeting somebody, shaking hands. What’s the point?” Besides, he added, “the closer I get to politicians, the more they’ll interfere.”

# “I think of one hundred small ideas, he (Samir) thinks of three big ideas,” Vineet said. Sometimes Samir imparts fatherly advice: ‘He would say, ‘Relax. Work less. Have a good balance. What are you chasing money for?” But Vineet said, “for me, it’s not work. I love creating something. It’s so much fun—I hardly take holidays. For me, this is a holiday.”

The New Yorker profile provides sufficient indication that the Times group is poised for its long-promised Initial Public Offering, probably on NASDAQ, and Vineet Jain goes on record.

“In the long run, we might go public and use the funds to acquire TV stations,” Vineet said. “We don’t need money to grow publishing, but we do to grow television and Internet.”

* Disclosures apply

Also read: When Samir Jain served a thali

Jug Suraiya on Samir Jain among others

What Raghav Bahl could learn from Samir Jain

Now, The Times of India takes on Financial Times

4 August 2012

First, Financial Times took out an advertisement, in the name of its CEO John Ridding, in response to an ad appearing in The Times of India  promoting the desi “Financial Times” published by Times Publishing House.

Now, the Times group has returned the favour with an an ad, not in the name of its CEO but of its company secretary Amita Gola, in response to Ridding’s missive.

Also read: Financial Times takes on The Times of India

Thrice bitten, will FT find real love after 20 years?

Samir Jain’s son-in-law rises on TOI horizon

25 June 2012

Six days after the internet chief of the Times group, Rishi Khiani, quit to start his own venture, the new CEO Satyan Gajwani—son-in-law of Times bossman Samir Jain—has made his appearance in the newspaper.

A business page story in the paper today announces that the Times’ online music platform will be available on Microsoft’s Surface.

Says Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet Ltd, “We want gaana.com to be as accessible to users as possible. The Windows8 Surface tablet is an exciting innovation, and a fantastic new way for users to experience music on demand. The Gaana app is now available in the Surface store for users globally to listen, compile, and share the music they love.”

Miami-born Gajwani is married to Samir Jain’s painter-daughter Trishla Jain. The two met while they were at Stanford.

Gajwani did a spell as executive assistant to Times group CEO Ravi Dhariwal before moving to the internet operations of the group.

Photograph: courtesy Tech Circle

Read the full story: Gaana on Surface

***

Also read: Power of the press belongs to those who own one!

The name is Gajwani. Satyan Suresh Gajwani

An ad? An edit? Advertorial? Edvertisement?

17 January 2012

The front page of The Sunday Times of India on January 15, with the anchor story at the bottom headlined”Get 110% out of your body with Functional Manual Therapy”.

Credited to “TNN” (Times News Network) and printed in the same body font as the rest of the paper, the article touts an “effective evaluation and treatment system that promotes optimum human performance by enhancing body mobility.”

It also mentinos where the therapy is available. At VARDAN, a wellness center in New Delhi, which is “an initiative of The Times Group in collaboration with The Institute of Physical Art (IPA), USA.”

An identical front-page article in The Economic Times on Monday, has led to a Wall Street Journal article. The article quotes Times CEO Ravi Dhariwal as saying that the VARDAN articl…

“is a news report, not an advt/advertorial. No money has been charged for it. We do cover our in-house activities/events/launches in a similar manner.”

Image: courtesy The Sunday Times of India

Read the full article: Is this a news story or an ad?

Ravi Dhariwal: Reader is king, reader is the CEO

12 November 2011

Ravi Dhariwal, the chief executive officer of The Times of India group, on why Indian newspapers still continue to be successful unlike in western markets.

“Coming from an FMCG background, fundamentally the first thing that I look at is, is it good for our consumers? Is it good for our advertisers and customers? The traditional publishing world was very different, it first thought of itself rather than the reader or the advertiser. That mindshift is extremely important.

“We exist because we have a reader; we exist because the guy who pays our bills is our advertiser. Therefore we need to be constantly attuned to them rather than just sitting in our ivory tower and saying, this is what we believe is important and this is what I am going to give to you.

“We [in ToI] are extremely fortunate to have editors who understand this and we have been able to make them understand this. They constantly talk to consumers and they are constantly in the market just to figure out what is really important, what is bubbling, what is good for our readers to know.

“To us the reader is the CEO, I am not the CEO.”

External reading: ‘Our paper isn’t for editors; it’s for readers’

Why doesn’t INS oppose ‘no-poaching’ pacts?

21 June 2011

The Indian Newspaper Society (INS) has branded the recommendations of the Majithia wage board as an attempt to muzzle the freedom of the press. But why does its heart beat for media freedom when competing newspapers enter no-poaching agreements which curtails the freedom of journalists?

That is the question that Yogesh Pawar asks. Pawar, a former Indian Express reporter who did a stint with NDTV before joining DNA recently, has been both a wage board employee and a contract comployee. He says both systems have their pluses and minuses.

But he uses tacit no-poaching agreement between papers (essentially to keep wages down) to drive home INS’ hypocrisy in ranting against the Majithia wage board in the name of media freedom.

Pawar writes:

“When there were only two broadsheets in town (The Times of India and The Indian Express in Bombay), they had a deal disallowing movement between themselves.

“What this did to morale and salaries can only be guessed as the drive to do well and get noticed simply stopped mattering. While some moved to television briefly as a bridge arrangement before coming back to their jobs of choice, others moved to Delhi where there were more options. The ones who couldn’t simply languished.

“Apart from your annual appraisals from within, when offers are made from other firms, it means the other organisation recognises your value. When media organisations changed to contract regimes, it was said that media-persons confident of their work need not be afraid.

“Doesn’t this work the other way round too with anti-poaching deals?”

Read the full article: What is sauce for the goose

Also read: Should papers implement Majithia wage board?

Why Majithia wage board is good for journalists

9 reasons why wage board is bad for journalism

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

External reading: Why not wage board for all journos and non-journos in media?

Media barons wake up together, sing same song

15 June 2011

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: The proprietors, promoters and publishers of India’s newspapers and magazines haven’t had a word to say on some of the biggest issues confronting Indian media—and directly impacting the trust and faith of the reader—in recent years.

Paid news, in which advertisements are couched as news? Silence.

Private treaties, in which vested interest is touted as ads? Silence.

Medianet, in which anybody can buy his or her way into the paper? Silence.

Cross-media ownership, which results in monopolies shutting out choice? Silence.

Dubious ownership, in which crooks, criminals and the corrupt become media barons—and underwrite major industry conventions? Silence.

Predatory pricing, which strangles small newspapers? Silence.

Dumping of copies to pump up circulation numbers? Silence.

Complicity of journalists with lobbyists? Silence.

The killing of journalists in the line of duty? Silence.

But the big guns of the Indian Newspaper Society (INS)—which represents 1.017 small, medium and large members—have suddenly sprung into life as one in slamming the recommendations of the G.R. Majithia wage board with the undisguised intent of blocking its implementation.

In just the first 15 days of this month, The Times of India has published four articles on the subject:

# June 2: The paper’s CEO Ravindra Dhariwal weighs in on the subject in an edit-page piece titled “Muzzling the Media

# June 4: “Wage board proposal will force many newspapers to shut down: INS

# June 6: “Wage boards challenged in Supreme Court” on the Ananda Bazaar Patrika group filing a petition in the Supreme Court

# June 9: INS president Kundan R. Vyas authors another editor-page piece titled “Future of Press at stake?

And now, ToI and The Economic Times have published an INS advertisement on its pages, essentially encapsulating the key points wage board opponents have been making for years.

For good measure, Ashish Bagga, the CEO of the India Today group and a prominent functionary on INS, has written an opinion piece titled “How to kill the print media” in the latest issue of the magazine, and Hindustan Times has a report titled, “Wage board outdated: experts“.

The theme of all the pieces is the same: 1) The newspaper industry is the only industry in the country to have a statutory wage board; even other sectors of the media, like TV, radio, internet don’t. 2) The wage hike recommended takes salaries of non-journalistic staff way beyond what the government itself pays its staff. 3) The wage board recommendations could end becoming a convenient tool for the government to turn the screws on inconvenient newspapers and agencies.

All fair points, no doubt, when viewed purely through the prism of the bottomline. But it is not so much the loyalty of journalists that INS is bothered about in opposing the wage board recommendations (most in the big newspapers are now on contract) but the disloyalty of non-journalists in not falling in line.

Easy hire-and-fire policies may yet be a legitimate objective to follow for proprietors, promoters and publishers to achieve efficiency, but where is the INS when other questions of importance confront journalists and journalism, many of which affect the small players in whose name they are fighting the battle against the Majithia board?

Also read: INS: “We reject wage board recommendations”

External reading: Wageboard for journalists

Why is Rupert Murdoch taking on Samir Jain?

23 February 2011

New Delhi’s media circles have agog all this week with news of a “sting” operation on The Times of India by The Sunday Times of London.

The question: why would Rupert Murdoch‘s paper take on Samir Jain‘s, especially when it is not revealing anything particularly new?

Is something afoot between the media giants?

Has a deal gone sour?

Have the first shots been fired in a war between News Corp and Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd?

The Sunday Times article has, however, been unavailable to readers because of paper’s paywall and because newspapers which subscribe to The Sunday Times syndication service have refrained from running it.

Below is the full text of the article, carried without the permission of the publishers. And in the dock is not just ToI but Hindi heavyweights like Dainik Bhaskar, Dainik Jagran and Aaj, the first two of whom are listed on the stock exchanges.

***

India’s media demand cash to run favourable news

By Nicola Smith/ Delhi

The Indian government has condemned a rise in so-called “paid news”, in which newspapers and television channels accept money to run favourable articles about politicians, companies and celebrities.

The move by Ambika Soni, the broadcasting minister, follows a damaging report commissioned by the Press Council of India, which revealed that the practise of playing for positive coverage in the Indian media was widespread.

Soni, who proposed a new body to regulate broadcasting, said the phenomenon was undermining the credibility of new reports. “The paid news issue does not crop up during the elections but at other times as well,” she said.

The Press Council report criticised newspapers and broadcasters that demand money from politicians to run sympathetic stories about them. It said some papers misrepresent paid-for advertising as news and enter “private treaties” with companies that guarantee favourable coverage in exchange for free shares.

The report quoted a long list of politicians who disclosed that newspaper had asked them to pay large sums to write about their campaigns during state elections in 2009.

Harmohan Dhawan, a former aviation minister, was told that if he wanted coverage, he would have to pay two local newspapers, Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhaskar, up to one million rupees (£13,600) each.

“Representatives of the print medium came to me and asked for money. They said their newspapers (would) give coverage if I paid them money. They offered a ‘package’ to me and in one such package I was told editorials would be written in my favour,” he said.

The story was echoed by Santosh Singh, a candidate for the ruling Congress party in Uttar Pradesh, who said he had been offered packages costing up to one million rupees by the Dainik Jagran and Aaj newspapers.

“The representatives of these newspapers who me said they were merely following orders given to them by their managements,” he said.

The Press Council report also highlighted the role of Medianet, a company created Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, which publishes The Times of India, The Economic Times and a range of other leading titles.

Medianet, for a price, openly offers to send journalists to cover launches or personality-related events, or arranges “news stories” based on a particular product to appear in the newspaper supplements.

A Sunday Times reporter telephoned Medianet last week posing as the public relations agent of a company wanting coverage for a party at Emporio, an exclusive shopping mall in Delhi.

Chandru Sambasivan, the head of Medianet’s Delhi office, said space could be bought in the Delhi Times supplement, the Times‘ society pages, for £27 a centimetre on the front page, of £16 inside.

He said it could “definitely” be dressed up as a genuine news story, as along it met a “celebrity quotient”. Celebrities were available to attend the event at an extra cost, he said.

“Once you are able to share it (the launch product) with us, we could always build a story around it and make an interesting article for the readers,” he said. “Basically, if you are looking at a launch, then it can go on ‘launch pad’, on page 3 of Delhi Times.”

Sambasivan confirmed that the latest launch pad feature, in which Katrina Kaif, the Bollywood star, promoted Uni-ball pens, had been paid for by a marketing company. The article, which has no writer’s name attached, does not make clear that it was sponsored.

In it, Kaif, 26, gushed: “I’m excited about being the face of a youthful, high-quality, international brand, which I have personally grown up with in the UK; and I particularly love Uni-Jetstream, which I think is the smoothest pen in the world.”

Ravi Dhariwal, the chief executive of The Times of India, said yesterday: “There is no paid in news in any of our main papers and titles. We do have advertising and promotional supplements which sometimes carry paid features.”

The practice of “paid news” has been widely criticised.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, one of the authors of Press Council report, said adverts posing as new were “cheating” readers.

Also read: Good morning! Your paper is free of paid news

Roy Greenslade: India’s dodgy ‘paid news’ phenomenon

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