To predict the meteorological weather, you have Mausam Bhavan. To predict the political weather, you have Doordarshan.
Before every general election, the government happily dips into the pockets of taxpayers and pumps in crores of rupees to revamp the supposedly “autonomous” broadcast behemoth.
And so it is in the year of the lord, 2013.
Under the new information and broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari, new appointments have been made to DD News, just as Ravi Shankar Prasad had in the NDA regime before the the 2004 elections. There are expensive advertisements in the newspapers announcing its shows; there is even a Twitter account.
It’s raining scams across the country—and the media is increasingly getting caught in the downpour with its pants down. In just the last few weeks, newspapers, magazines and TV stations have stood accused of conflict of interest, outright plagiarism, questionable business practices, and equally questionable journalistic practices.
In the backdrop of the Adarsh scam in Bombay which claimed the head of Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan, the preferential allotment of vacant plots and houses to media houses and mavens as a form of favouritism, if not subtle bribery, has drawn attention too.
Last week, in Tehelka magazine, the BJP’s Ravi Shankar Prasad raised the issue of media houses pontificating on ethics while sitting on land leased at one rupee (yes, Re 1).
“Hundreds of plots around the country have been given to big media houses in Delhi, Noida and Greater Noida on Re. 1 lease. What about them? If you want to raise a question on discretionary quota, then please check every allotment.“
In its latest issue, Tehelka runs a cover story titled “Land Scam 2.0“, in which it carries a “partial list” of Karnataka journalists who have been allotted expensive house plots in Bangalore under the controversial “G” category of the chief minister. And if the buzz is to be believed, one of those on the list has already had to pay a price for his apparent indiscretion with his job.
If Ashok Chavan’s relatives and B.S. Yediyurappa‘s could return their allotments after being caught, will the journalists?
Screenshot: courtesy Tehelka
Also read: ‘Media houses are sitting on plots leased at Re 1’
The BJP general secretary and member of Parliament, Ravi Shankar Prasad, in an interview with Kunal Majumder of Tehelka magazine:
Q: [Maharashtra chief minister] Ashok Chavan has resigned after corruption charges. Will Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa follow suit?
A: Irregularities in housing societies are nothing new. The Adarsh Society scam shocked the nation because Kargil widows were duped. As far as Yeddyurappa is concerned, he has explained everything.
Hundreds of plots around the country have been given to big media houses in Delhi, Noida and Greater Noida on Re. 1 lease. What about them? If you want to raise a question on discretionary quota, then please check every allotment.
Read the full interview: ‘Congress record reeks of corruption’