Monthly Archives: February 2012

EPW on the RIL-ETV-TV18 deal-within-a-deal

In the latest issue of the Economic & Political Weekly, Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Subi Chaturvedi weigh in on the nearly forgotten RIL-ETV-TV18 deal, which gives India’s biggest business house control over India’s biggest business news channel, a clutch of news channels, online properties and magazines:

“If international best practices are to be followed, cross-media restrictions should be put in place to prevent large groups from owning stakes across several media, such as print, newspapers, television, radio and the internet. In the US, restrictions place a limit on the market-share available to one entity and that prevents newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership in the same market.

“In France and Canada, a “two out of three” law prevails, whereby companies can only own two of three of the following: terrestrial television services, radio services and daily newspapers. In the UK, the ownership of both newspapers and radio stations, and of both television channels and newspapers in the same area, is prohibited….

“The uniqueness of India’s “mediascape” suggests that while restrictions may be desirable, the safeguards deemed appropriate may not precisely be those that apply in other countries. The TRAI has suggested that a detailed market analysis be conducted by the I&B Ministry in order to ascertain which safeguards would be most appropriate in the Indian context.

“Restrictions on cross-media ownership and control will certainly be resisted staunchly by the big conglomerates in India which own properties across media types and segments. These groups would be vociferous in their criticism of any step to move towards regulation of corporate “groups” or “conglomerates” as opposed to specific “entities” – they would resist such moves tooth and nail.

“Any attempt to impose cross-media restrictions on ownership and control would be dubbed as ‘heavy-handed government censorship’, ‘a return to the bad days of the Emergency’, and a ‘reversion to the infamous licence control raj. The government will invarialy be accused of trying to constrain the media because the media is critical of those in positions of power and authority.

“The argument that since cross-media restrictions exist in advanced capitalist countries with developed media markets, such restrictions should also exist in India, will be countered by claims that since India is a developing country, any restrictions on ownership and control would stifle the media’s growth potential.”

Read the full article: Corporatisation of the media

Also read: Mint says SEBI looking into RIL-Network18/TV18-ETV deal

Rajya Sabha TV tears into RIL-Network18-ETV deal

Will RIL-TV18-ETV deal win SEBI, CCI approval?

The sudden rise of Mukesh Ambani, media mogul

The Indian Express, Reliance & Shekhar Gupta

Niira Radia, Mukesh Ambani, Prannoy Roy & NDTV

ET joins Mint, has questions on RIL-ETV-TV18 deal

This is the chief minister, and here’s the news

Karnataka chief minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda inaugurates the Kannada news channel, Public TV, in Bangalore on Sunday by reading a news item from a laptop computer. The channel is headed by H.R. Ranganath, the son of a southern railway employee in Mysore, who rose to be editor of Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News.

PhotographKarnataka Photo News

Also readIs there space for another Kannada news channel?

TOI bossman Samir Jain wants a Man Friday

Samir Jain, the scarily reclusive bossman of The Times of India group—neither seen nor heard by lesser mortals in the newsroom—makes a rare appearance on the pages of the paper, through an advertisement for an executive secretary, with a copy of his visiting card.

Also read: When Samir Jain served a thali

Jug Suraiya on Samir Jain among others

Why is Rupert Murdoch taking on Samir Jain?

What Raghav Bahl could learn from Samir Jain

Porngate: How BJP MLA blacked out TV, papers

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.

A Spanish hand behind a Malayalam newspaper

The Malayalam daily Malayala Manorama has unveiled a new look. The redesign has been done by Errea Commuications, the design house of the Spanish designer Javier Errea.

Image: courtesy Newspaper Design

Also read: Another boilerplate redesign from Mario Garcia

Also read: In its golden jubilee year, ET gets a redesign

Good heavens, another Mario Garcia redesign

Yet another paper redesigned by Mario Garcia

How come Mario Garcia didn’t redesign this one?

Finally, a redesign not done by Mario Garcia

Less is better for the new, redesigned rediff.com

TOI drags Hindu’s new editor, CEO into ad war

The Times of India carries this front page advertisement in its Madras edition today, in response to The Hindu‘s video campaign which was a response to The Times‘ insinuation in an earlier TVC that the “Mount Road Mahavishnu ” put readers to sleep.

Also read: Good morning, it’s time to go back to bed

How Hindu aimed at Times but shot DNA

Times readers affluent, not middle class. Mind it.

TOI readers affluent, not middle class. Mind it.

R. Sukumar, the editor of the business daily Mint, wrote an article recently on the Hindu-Times of India ad war, saying:

The Times of India has, over the past few years, become a good read … perhaps, driven by the realization that Page 1 of the country’s most-read English newspaper needs to reflect the sentiments of the English-speaking middle class…”

The Times of India, whose business daily The Economic Times competes with Mint in some markets, has taken offence—serious offence!—at this “slur” of its readers being middle-class.

In an unbylined piece on its website, a Times News Network (TNN) correspondent writes:

“TOI has a readership of 7.4 million…. [If] you compare it with the total size of the Indian population, which is approximately 1.2 billion… TOI‘s readers actually constitute 0.6% of the Indian population. And logically speaking, they obviously know English, which is still the language of the elite in India.

“The Asian Development Bank (ADB) stated that India’s middle-class—defined as those able to spend $2 and $20 a day in 2005 purchasing power parity dollars had expanded to about 420 million. By this definition, TOI readers are not only just 0.6% of India’s overall population, they also constitute barely 1.8% of its middle class.

“Interestingly, the report defined those who could spend more than $20 a day as affluent. India has approximately 26 million of them. It’s a safe bet that most of TOI’s readers would fall into this category. So, if at all a word has to be used to describe TOI readers, it should be “affluent”.

“Though perhaps it might be more accurate to dub them the creamiest of layers. Because when you compare their incomes and spending power with the Indian average, it is clear that they form the very peak of the pyramid.

“In any case, it’s the rare top industrialist/CEO/bureaucrat/politician who does not read TOI. Indeed, if you did a dipstick survey, you might struggle to find even one. TOI readers may be relatively small in numbers, but they wield disproportionate economic and political clout.

“They are decision makers, influencers, movers and shakers. Which is why it’s unfair to collectively club them under the omnibus term “middle class”.

Also read: How Times Hindu aimed at Hindu Times but shot DNA

External reading: A battle for the hearts and souls of readers