Vishweshwar Bhat, the former editor of the mass-circulation Vijaya Karnataka belonging to The Times of India group, has joined the State’s fourth largest paper, Kannada Prabha, as editor-in-chief, in a move that is likely to shake up the Kannada newspaper market in more ways than one.
Bhat was introduced to the editorial staff and management team of Kannada Prabha by Manoj Kumar Sonthalia, chairman and managing director of The New Indian Express group which owns Kannada Prabha, in Bangalore this evening.
On his newly launched blog, Bhat called the shift to Kannada Prabha a “homecoming”, having served it for four years as sub-editor in the initial stages of his career and then having done another four years at the Asian Schoool of Journalism when it was launched by the Express group.
Bhat confirmed the shift to sans serif. (An announcement of the appointment was made on the front page of Kannada Prabha on Tuesday, February 8)
The popular yet controversial Bhat quit Vijaya Karnataka on 8 December 2010, and the market had since been abuzz about his next port of call. Bhat himself wrote on his blog that he briefly considered launching a new newspaper but had to abandon the idea of a startup because of the constraints of printing presses.
There were also rumours that Bhat was headed towards Udayavani, the Kannada newspaper published by the Pais of Manipal, but clearly Kannada Prabha‘s reach and reputation—not to mention the deep pockets (and ambitions) of its owner in waiting, phone baron-turned-parliamentarian, Rajeev Chandrasekhar—tilted the balance.
Both Bhat and Chandrasekhar appear to be similarly politically aligned.
Bhat served as an officer on special duty to the former Union minister Ananth Kumar of the BJP, and Chandrasekhar, an independent MP elected with BJP support, has been seen with both Ananth Kumar and the leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, on a “Friends of BJP” platform.
Bhat’s decision to join Kannada Prabha, however, shows that an official Times VPL internal circular, issued in the name of CEO Sunil Rajshekhar that said he was leaving Vijaya Karnataka to pursue “higher studies“, was merely for public consumption.
Kannada Prabha, which currently belongs to The New Indian Express group of Sonthalia, is set to come into the control of Rajeev Chandrasekhar by June this year.
Chandrasekhar had entered into a “strategic partnership alliance” with Express publications in March 2009, and picked up a minority stake. His stake in Kannada Prabha Publications (valued at Rs 250 crore) currently stands at 48%. The grapevine has it that he will obtain a majority controlling stake of 76% by June.
So far, the fight for the Kannada advertising pie has been between Vijaya Karnataka (average issue readership 34.25 lakh readers, IRS round 3) and No.2 Praja Vani (29.10 lakh readers) belonging to the Deccan Herald group. But the Bhat-Chandrasekhar combination at Kannada Prabha (11.15 lakh readers) is likely to muddy the scene.
Vijaya Karnataka is said to be mulling the launch of a Bangalore Mirror-style Kannada tabloid to be issued free with Vijaya Karnataka to blunt the Bhat effect at Kannada Prabha, and also to overcome recent circulation and readership losses to Praja Vani.
Bhat’s entry into Kannada Prabha is also poised create a ripple in Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s media stable.
Chandrasekhar already has a sizeable media presence in Karnataka through his Suvarna and Suvarna News channels. He had successfully wooed Kannada Prabha editor H.R. Ranganath to the Suvarna News camp at the expense of incumbent Shashidhar Bhat two years ago.
Ranganath came to Suvarna News with his band of print journalists under the belief that Rajeev Chandrasekhar would start his own newspaper. That plan first came unstuck with his purchase of a minority stake in KP.
Now, with the arrival of Vishweshwar Bhat and his own band of print journalists from VK, the former Kannada Prabha journalists in the Suvarna stable are in a dilemma about their future course of action. One of them, Ravi Hegde, is reported to have left Suvarna News and joined Udayavani as editor.
K. Shiva Subramanya, who took over from Ranganath as editor of Kannada Prabha, is reported to have indiciated his decision to leave Kannada Prabha, with the entry of Vishweshwar Bhat, even as Vijaya Karnataka looks around for a full-time Kannada editor.
Whether Bhat will also have a say in Suvarna News or not will be clear in June when both the channel and the newspaper come under a common owner, but it is more likely than not that Bhat will be projected as a face on Suvarna News, both to push Kannada Prabha as a paper and to lend the channel more journalistic gravitas.
The editorial-musical chairs in Bangalore had set the Kannada tabloids and blogs on fire over the last couple of months, with allegations, counter-allegations, innuendos and insinuations, all showing Kannada journalistic egos in very poor light.
Bhat’s resignation also resulted in an ugly war of words with his longtime friend, Ravi Belagere, editor of the popular Hi! Bangalore tabloid. Till recently fought from the shoulders of the former Vijaya Karnataka columnist Pratap Simha, the squabble has increasingly become personal, with Bhat reportedly even sending off a legal notice.
Pratap Simha welcomed Bhat’s decision on his blog thus:
“Our dear editor VISHWESHWAR BHAT has joined “KANNADA PRABHA” just now!! He is the man who gave different dimension to Kannada Journalism, he is the man who captured the imagination of us through his journalistic skills, he is the man who changed the way v all used to think, he is the man who made stars out of writers, he is the man who gave forum to nationalistic views which were unheard until his arrival. I have reason to believe that, his new innings will set new standards and new parameters in Kannada Journalism. Just WATCH OUT…”
Also read: ToI group editor in a flap over honorary doctorate
A blank editorial, a black editorial & a footnote
Is the management responsible for content too?
THE MUSICAL CHAIR FOR KANNADA THE NEWSPAPERS APPEAR LIKE A ‘BOMBEYAATA’BY THE NEWSPPER BARONS. WHAT ULTIMATELY IS REQUIRED IS GOOD, HEALTHY, LITERARY JOURNALISM BEREFT OF POLITICAL MANOUVRES.eDITORS SHOULD GIVE SUPPORT TO NEW AND CAPABLE AUTHORS INSTEAD OF DEPENDING ON SAME OLD COLUMNISTS
Was Worried buddijeevies would dominate The News paper World after Mr.Bhat left VK, Now a sense of releif Coz Mr.Bhat is still in field.
Mr.Bhat Congratulations!! We are eagerly waiting for your articles like noorentu mathu, vakrathundokthi and etc… All the best for your future…
and special thanks to The New Indian Express group because Mr. Bhat is still in field…
” ಮಹಾಶೂನ್ಯ ”
ಆತ್ಮಕ್ಕೆ ದೇಹವೇ ರೂಪ
ರೂಪಕ್ಕೆ ಚೈತನ್ಯವೇ ಜೀವ
ಜೀವಕ್ಕೆ ಮೂಲವೇ ಬೀಜ
ಬೀಜಕ್ಕೆ ಉಣವೇ ನಮ್ಮ ಧರೆ
ಧರೆಗೆ ಕಾರಣವೇ ಈ ಜಗ್ಗತ್ತು
ಜಗ್ಗತ್ತಿನ ಶೃಷ್ಟಿಯೇ ಆ ನಿರಂಜನ
ನಿರಂಜನನ ಬಲವೇ ಆ ಜ್ಞಾನ
ಜ್ಞಾನ ಅರಿವ ಮಾರ್ಗವೇ ಓಂಕಾರ
ಓಂಕಾರ ಇರುವಿಕೆತಲವೇ ಶೂನ್ಯ
ಶೂನ್ಯದ ಮೇಲೋದರೆ ಸರ್ವಶೂನ್ಯ
ಸರ್ವಶೂನ್ಯವ ದಾಟಿದರೆ ಮಹಾಶೂನ್ಯ
ಆ ಮಹಾಶೂನ್ಯವೇ ಎಂದಿಗೂ ಸತ್ಯ ಸತ್ಯ ಸತ್ಯ .
ನಿರಂಜನ : ನಿರಾಕಾರ ನಿರಾಧಾರ ನಿಗೂಢ ನಿರ್ಗುಣನೂ ಆದ ಅನಿರ್ವಾಚನೀಯ ಪರಮಾತ್ಮ . ಅನಿರ್ವಾಚನೀಯ : ಮಾತಿನಿಂದ ಹೇಳಲಾಗದ, ಆರ್ಥೈಸಲಾಗದ
Well Mr.Bhat, we would dream of changes in this country because of people like you & your team.
DEAR pratap simha congrats & best wishes for ur new assignment.Don”t worried about cheap artciles of Ravi belegere. HIS paper hai bengalore,not worth to read & COMMENT.HE is not doing any service to society just making money by running school/ cheap popularity. so we want young columinist like you. GO AHEAD.
i hv heard abt u from my friend sir ,my friend likes u vry much
congrats sir..realy i was expecting ur articls…..u r realy great…we expect from u more….im very curious abt ur leavng in vijaya karnataka….i got many infrmation …thanks
ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು ತಮ್ಮ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಶಿವಮೊಗ್ಗ ಪತ್ರಕರ್ತರ ಕೆಹೆಚಬಿ ನಿವೆಶನ್ ಹಗರಣದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ವರದಿ ಪ್ರಕಟಿಸಿ.
Vishweshwara Bhat has been my all-time favorite as an intensive and thought-provoking journalist, as much as I adore the writings of Pratap Simha as a young firebrand journalist of our times. I believe that both these ace journalists from Karnataka have immense potential to reach the world platforms and readership. I wish Bhat and Pratap ‘cross’ the borders of Karnataka with broader issues that enrich and enlighten the mankind. Man can be peaceful by developing a more inter-dependent world than merely focusing on establishing ‘independent’ countries.
A country can develop itself as an interdependent one yet practising utmost freedom. In the world of limited and dwindling resources and increasing divisive forces such as naxalism and terrorism, it is need of the hour to redefine the nationalistic views and set our eyesight beyond borders. I remember Albert Einstein’s famous saying: ‘Nationalism is an infantile sickness’. In this world of ‘global village’ brand catching up so well, we cannot build walls around countries let alone the compound walls around our own homes. The idea of Ramarajya, indeed, may be utopian. But preparing towards making one like that may not be bad idea, if not for puritan interests. No man is an island. So also, no country can be an island to itself. It has to be part of mainland if it’s serious about its peaceful journey for generations to come. For it is in the world order that we have to seek the order for our country and for our States.
We must ask ourselves, In what way are the border disputes between Maharashtra and Karnataka different from that of Indo-Pak border disputes? Absence of security personnel across the border villages of these two states does not stop the situation from being branded as hopeless, as hopeless as that in Indo-Pak border villages. The people living in these cross-border villages face the wrath of border tensions, which are invariably politically driven. There is heightened evidence in the world that political solutions have failed to resolve border conflicts so far. Then, we need to discover alternate solutions to ease out cross-border tensions. Can Bhat and Pratap write to be the voice of humanity than representing only people at one side of the ‘fence’?
When the world was battered by two world wars, there was a need for a man like Mahatma Gandhi. His mantra of non-violence became very dear to the people after witnessing chilling bloodshed of two world wars. People were fed up with nationalistic slogans. So, Gandhi, with his smart but desiring move, took the attention of the world on non-violence. It worked. Now, time is ripe yet again for such a ‘treatment’. India has been always exemplary in leading the world towards such path of enlightenment of Buddha. May I say that the time has come for India to lead the trampled world towards peace and harmony? What can our powerful journalists such as Bhat and Pratap contribute towards creating a better world order? And, why not? Yes, they can.
Tamma patrikeyalli Kannadadde upa bhaashegalaada Tulu haagu Kodava bhaashegalannu Kannadigarige kalisuva initiative tegedukondare hege? Yaavudadaru ondu dinada ardha putavannu adakke meesalidabahudalla…
BAHT SIR WE LOVE YOUR COULMS FROM CHILDHOOD DAYs YOUR ONE ROLE MODEL ,&INSPIRING TO ME ,LOVR U SIR
Its my earnest request to you is to take up a latest burning Issue on ” BPL Card”. Department issuing left and wright to one who pay Rs. 5000/0 to 10000/- per card. Hope you know BPLCard holders population is more than the Karnataka Population in Karnataka.
Hope you will take this matter at the most. The people involved are Thashildar, Local Brokers, Food and Civil Supplies department, Panchayat, Grama panchayath Presidents, local corporators , MLC’s, MLA’s.