With established players like Economic Times and Business Standard ramping up their offerings, did the publishers see the writing on the wall? Did the promoters tighten the purse strings? Etcetera.
K.D. Singh, the controversial poultry entrepreneur behind the Republic of Chicken chain and a member of Parliament four months ago of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and now of the Trinamool Congress, clears the air in The Economic Times on Sunday:
“Singh seems to share the late Ambani’s fondness for experimenting with media investments. He has bought a big stake in Anant Media Pvt Ltd, which publishes the Tehelka magazine.
“The company’s plans to launch a business daily, the Financial World, were aborted in January because Singh is said to have reneged on a promised 100 crore.
“Singh denies this. He says the decision to call off the venture was entirely Tehelka’s. “I am a silent investor in Anant Media. I don’t interfere in the day-to-day affairs.”
“Tarun J Tejpal, editor-in-chief of Tehelka and a promoter of Anant Media, concurs. “All the calls, including the one to scale down the project and rejig it for a far more modest existence, were mine.” Tejpal says Singh has never called asking for anything or suggesting anything. “I hope it stays that way.”
For a wannabe media owner, K.D. Singh has enjoyed what, at best, can be described as a colourful political life.
On the day of his election to the Rajya Sabha on the JMM ticket in July 2010, Singh was snared by a sting operation masterminded by former Tehelka journalist Aniruddha Bahal‘s cobrapost.com, that showed he had paid his way into the upper house of Parliament.
The sting was aired on CNN-IBN, on which he soon emerged as a political talking head.
Last week, Singh was stopped at Delhi airport with Rs 57 lakh in cash, as he proceeded to election-bound Assam. He was let off after he apparently convinced the air intelligence unit of the income-tax department that the money was all accounted for.
In 2009, The Tribune, Chandigarh, reported that he had surrendered “Rs 22 crore of unacounted income” following surveys by the income-tax department on eleven of his business establishments. (View a Google cache of the 2009 annual report of Alchemist here.)
Two weeks ago, India Today published a glowing profile of Singh which revealed that he was close to launching a Bengali news channel.