Monthly Archives: July 2010

The arrival of a television anchor foretold

Kanchan Gupta in The Pioneer:

“Interviewing prospective students for a media school can be a useful experience. It provides you with an insight into how media is perceived among the young who shall inherit the world from us.

“I usually begin by asking the applicants whether they want to pursue a career in print journalism or in the audio-visual media.

“During one such interview recently, a young woman told me, “I want to join a news channel.” And do what? “I want to become an anchor.” Why? “I have many things to say and as an anchor I can say anything I want.”

“What makes you think so? “I watch television regularly. I know.” And why do you think you can actually say whatever you want? That left her slightly flustered. “But we have freedom of expression, right? And media is free in our country, right?”

Read the full article: ‘Free’ media tars RSS with fiction


Tarun J. Tejpal on the five facets of his life

Tarun J. Tejpal, editor of Tehelka, in Hi! Blitz, the in-flight journal of Kingfisher airlines:

On his father, an army officer: “He gave us an idea of the big world. It was a routine to discuss world history and affairs at the dinner table. When I was seven, I knew the names of secretary-generals of the United Nations. My father talked about these, so it became part of my metabolism.”

On how he parcels his time: “Fifty per cent of my time has gone in finding funds in the last seven years. It’s getting better just by surviving. Today, there are investors all over the world who would love to have a piece of Tehelka.”

On India: “Very often people criticise me for being tough about India, but toughness arises out of great love. I am not one of those who believes India is a great country. I think we have a lot of hard work to do to get there. Gandhi, Nehru, Azad… came from elite backgrounds but they understood that the soul of India was a deeply damaged and impoverished soul. That’s something I try to convey through journalism and writing to my own class—that no matter how elite you are, you are tied to a very deep social contract. The more elite you are, the more responsibility you have to give back for the greater good, but that also doesn’t mean that we don’t lead a good life.”

On politics: “I was offered a ticket in the 2004 elections (I will not tell which party). I thought about it for a very long time. I decided not to go for it largely because I am an extremely idiosyncratic person. I like to live life on my own terms. I am whimsical and like to answer only to myself and not to anybody else. I squared up my personality and decided I was a bad fit. Our task as journalists is to impact power and money and make them (politicans) do the right thing.”

On his essential mien: “I’m a risk taker. I think  my biggest failing and strength is that I am easily bored unless I am challenged. Whether as a writer or journalist, I try to push the boundaries. My ability to stay unafraid has somehow worked in my favour and also got me in trouble.”

Photograph: courtesy obiwi

Also read: ‘Media is now a part of the conspiracy of silence’

Gandhian activism, fiery journalism & cocktails!

How (free) India treats Foreign Correspondents

PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: Indian politicians and patriots have long held the belief that the “western” media only relays bad news from Bharat.

That, despite all the towering progress made by the emerging superpower, foreign correspondents based out of India only tell their news consumers about death, disease, despair and disillusionment in our glorious land.

If not snakes, sadhus and superstition.

As if to underline the point, the Indian government has reportedly refused to extend the visa of Japanese television journalist, Shogo Takahashi of NHK television, allegedly because his reports focused extensively on poverty and the caste system.

In other words, “consistently negative reporting” about India, that is “not convenient for the interest of India“.

The Times of India reports that Takahashi, 46, first earned the displeasure of Indian officials because his despatches for the TV show Indo no Shogeki (The impact of India) dwelt overtly on the caste system in the Indian electoral system during the 2009 general elections.

Word has also now been conveniently leaked by anonymous officials that Takahashi often filmed his documentaries without taking permission or misused permissions to shoot something other than what permission had been taken for, and also shot “high-security” defence installations.

The word “bias” has also been mentioned.

NHK has expressed surprise at the Indian government’s abrupt decision and has sought an appointment with Indian embassay officials in Tokyo. There is talk that the channel may approach the Japanese foreign ministry to take up the matter with New Delhi.

However, the timing of the decision—shortly after a journalist of the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun complained at prime minister’s Manmohan Singh‘s national press conference about the difficulties in obtaining a press information bureau (PIB) accreditation—and the ostensible reasons are revealing.

On the one hand, for several months now, all the attention has been at estimating the number of poor in India (now conveniently fixed at 37% of the population). Is it so wrong if a foreign correspondent points it out? And since when did “consistently positive reporting” become a condition for visa renewal?

Does India even half-a-case to protest against anybody, Indian or foreign, dwelling on the menace of caste?

But it is the brazen manner in which a journalist has been sent out by a supposedly “liberalised” country for reporting what is not kosher that takes the breath away. That, and the silence of the Indian media lambs—the press council, the editors’ guilds, etc—at the treatment meted out to one of their own.

If Shago Takahashi had failed to convey something vital about freedom of expression in India, the faceless officials of the home and external ministries have done his job.


In the dosa joint where ‘our beloved father’ ate

New Delhi’s most famous media canteen—the one at the news agency United News of India (UNI)—finally steps out of the margins into the gossip columns.

Facsimile: courtesy Mail Today

Also read: Why the Indian media doesn’t take on Ambanis

Sorry brother, we got a few million dollars wrong

How media hyped up the Reliance Power IPO

Anil sues Mukesh Ambani for New York Times profile

How serious is the trouble at CNBC & CNN-IBN?

Raghav Bahl‘s Network 18 group has restructured its business plan. Again.

All the loss-making broadcast businesses—CNBC TV18, CNN-IBN, IBN7, etc—are under one roof, and the digital and publishing initiatives—, Infomedia, etc—under another.

Debashis Basu writes in the personal finance magazine Moneylife that this is an old trick aimed at buying time and raising money by spinning a new story:

“The problem starts with the fact that 40% of TV18’s business is broadcasting that helps pull in revenues for other businesses. And there, revenues show not traction.

“Revenues were actually down in the March quarter even over the terrible quarter that was March 2009, despite the fact that this year’s March quarter revenues should have been buoyed by the big event of the Union Budget.

“The silver lining is that one part of IBN18’s business-entertainment channel Colors, is making money. But other broadcasting businesses of IBN18 (CNN-IBN, IBN Lokmat and IBN7) are in deep losses again and have no real growth traction.

“Competition is intense because others can also play the same game as Network18 can.

“Their operational costs are high too, mainly because salaries are exorbitant, relative to quality and quantity of output. Most importantly, these news operations have no real edge; they are indistinguishable from the others. The 50% profit from Colors will be eaten up by losses from the news channels.”

MoneyLife‘s continuing series of stories on the state of the TV players is indicative of the code of omerta that seems to be in play in the Indian media on matters affecting the Indian media. Although TV18 is a listed entity, which means ordinary citizens have their money invested in it, other media houses do not devote the same space on the financials.

Read the full article: Restructuring won’t mend cracks

Also read: The endgame is near for TV18 and NDTV

The barbs that resulted in a Rs 500 crore lawsuit

Is this man the new media mogul of India?

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gets gag order on Agni, TV9

The following is the full text of the press release issued by “India’s future Nobel laureate“, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar‘s art of living (AoL) foundation on an injunction order obtained by it against sections of the media in Bangalore following the recent spurt of news:

“On behalf of Vyakti Vikas Kendra (VVKI), India, and the Art of Living foundation, we  would like to inform all  concerned that considering our case and request, the court of honourable 22nd additional district and sessions judge, Bangalore City, was pleased to grant an ad-interim prohibitory injunction in original suit no. 4583/2010 instituted on our behalf by virtue of which prohibiting the defendants Shridhar alias Agni Shridhar, M.S. Ravindra, Sayyed Aman alias Bachan, Rajshekar Hathgundhi, Manjunath Adde alias Adde of Agni tabloid, M. Krishnappa, Paul Fernandes, Shankar alias Mavalli Shankar of Karnataka dalit sangharsha samiti and M/s TV9 Karnataka and News-9 satellite television channels from indulging in any nature of writing, publishing in press media,  audio visual media or in any form any derogatory or defamatory material , article, speech against the Art of Living foundation or VVKI and its founder, his holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, till further order . The case next stands posted on 9th Aug 2010.”

Also read: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar threatens to sue tabloid

Daily exercise improves newspaper circulation

Indian publications are full of facts; the fiction is in their circulation figures.

Cooked up with great expertise, garnished liberally with an extra zero, certified by audit agencies which will consume any shit, and then lovingly dished out to agencies and advertisers, the number of actual copies sold is a joke.

Especially with complimentary copies, subsidised subscription copies, school editions, etc, all adding to a smorgasbord already laden by price-cutting, dumping and other predatory tactics.

Mail Today, the daily tabloid newspaper from the India Today group, is trying a new trick to show that it is doing well against the market leaders in Delhi. On page one each day, below the masthead, the paper prints “today’s circulation”.

These are the numbers from the first week of July2 2010, showing a marginal dip on Sunday:

7 July: 155,575 copies

6 July: 152,876 copies

5 July: 152,905 copies

4 July: 149,925 copies

3 July: 152,970 copies

2 July: 152,845 copies

1 July: 153,555 copies

Who this is intended at and how it will help, knows God, but in an industry that revels in opacity, Mail Today‘s stab at transparency is a welcome one, if only….

Also read: Newspaper cartoon that’s railing the Israelis

Newspaper cartoon that offending the Aussies

Gandhi for the goose ain’t Gandhi for the gander?

Mail Today names India’s second richest woman