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.
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Those who live by the media shall die by it, was not what the editor-in-chief of the Harijan said. But he would well have had he been around in the era of Suhel Seth. The adman cum image consultant cum lobbyist cum columnist cum TV regular, who counts media bigwigs and gasbags among his many admirers, has known nothing but a fawning press.
But a scalding review of the balding Seth’s book Get to the Top by the Indian Express journalist turned Business Standard journalist, Mihir S. Sharma, in the latest issue of the monthly magazine Caravan, has seen the boarding school-boy from St. Paul’s school, Darjeeling, lose his shirt and civility—and on Twitter.
Seth called Caravan a magazine no one reads and the Harvard-educated Sharma an unemployed economist sacked from every job he has held. As blogosphere heated up, Seth, who was recently sued by tobacco major ITC for Rs 200 crore for a set of similarly senseless tweets, got the message and pulled out the tweets.
Thankfully, Caravan senior editor Jonathan Shainin has captured the exchanges between author and critic for posterity.
Screenshots: courtesy Jonathan Shainin/ Caravan
Read the review: The Age of Seth