Mail Today, the tabloid daily owned by the India Today group, reports that an astonishing 2,450 journalists (including non-editorial staff) may have lost their jobs after the meltdown of Bengal’s chitfund driven, politically backed newspapers and TV stations.
Employees of Saradha group owned 24-hour TV news station, Channel 10, are reported to have filed a complaint against the Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha member andSaradha group media cell CEO Kunal Ghosh and the chairman Sudipta Sen for not paying salaries and depositing contributions to the provident fund.
In the Indian Express, editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta writes:
“But why are we complaining? Why are we being so protective of what only we see as our turf? There is nothing in the law to stop anybody from owning media. And sure enough, the biggest business houses in India have tried their hand with the media and retreated with burnt fingers and singed balance sheets.
“The Ambanis (Observer Group), Vijaypat Singhania (The Indian Post), L.M. Thapar (The Pioneer), Sanjay Dalmia (Sunday Mail), Lalit Suri (Delhi Midday), are like a rollcall of the captains of Indian industry who failed in the media business.
“They failed, you’d say, because they did not, deep down, respect the media, or journalists. Many of them saw themselves as victims of poorly paid, dimwit journalists employed by people who called themselves media barons but were barons of what was a boutique business compared to theirs.
“But there is a difference between then and now, and between them and the state-level businessmen investing in the media now. They failed because they did not respect journalism. The current lot are setting up or buying up media mainly because they do not respect journalism, because they think all journalists are available, if not for sale then for hire, as lawfully paid employees.
“If you have a couple of news channels and newspapers, a few well known (and well connected) journalists as your employees, give them a fat pay cheque, a Merc, and they solve your problem of access and power. They also get you respect, as you get to speak to, and rub shoulders with top politicians, even intellectuals, at awards and events organised by your media group.
“It is the cheapest ticket to clout, protection and a competitive edge.
“A bit like, to steal the immortal line Shashi Kapoor spoke to his wayward “brother” Amitabh Bachchan in Yash Chopra‘s Deewar (mere paas maa hai), tere paas police, SEBI, RBI, CBI, kuchch bhi ho, mere paas media hai.
“Remember how Gopal Kanda defied Delhi Police to arrest him rather than have him present himself grandly for surrender? The police put up scores of checkpoints to look for him, but he arrived in style, riding an OB van of STV, a channel known to be “close” to him. Which cop would dare to look inside an OB van?”
Infographic: courtesy Mail Today
Hi – interesting that Shekhar Gupta does not refer to current very big business media owners! Any idea why? je
Good question, John. Could Gupta be guilty of selective reporting? Now, that barons of all persuasions have jumped onto the media bandwagon, all that it has become is a “business”. Earlier, the first page of a newspaper was sacrosanct but now all manner of advertisements are thrust under the nose of the reader, forcing him to look at them. One cannot anymore be sure of the authenticity of the news either, what with “paid news,” being such a staple part of media “business,” especially during election time!
Is he hallucinating? Almost all big business houses own media now.
Who has he written this for? Dimwits who don’t know who owns media?
I have read Sekhar’s article in the original. Is his memory so short, that he forgot about RadiaGate so soon? And how one journalist asked, ‘tell me what shall I tell them?’ Another asked Niira for instructions on the content of his column (in a national English daily) the following day. The gentleman sounded as servile as a waiter taking order in a restaurant.
[By the by waiters in restaurants are not so servile nowadays. For them restaurants are dime a dozen and customers are aplenty; thanks to the liberalised economy that is also the reason for the proliferation of the media.]
The two ‘top’ journalists cocked a snook (at integrity!) and rode the storm. One of them never left the station and the other sneaked back after a brief hiatus. As the old saying (suitably modified) goes, maybe ‘you can’t buy a journalist; you can hire him!’
Sorry but the days of yore – of high ideals and lofty principles are long gone!
Mr Gupta writes a critical piece on media ownership and today’s Indian Express has front-page (entire bottom half) ad of a newly launched channel by the owner of Mumbai’s infamous Deepa dance bar. The bar was closed few years back after its name cropped up in the cricket betting scandal.