Network 18’s right-wing swing on Caravan cover


The December issue of Caravan magazine has a 16-page cover story on how the Raghav Bahl founded Network 18 has taken a turn towards right-wing politics after its takeover by Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Industries.

Headlined ‘The Network Effect’ and written by Rahul Bhatia, who authored the Arnab Goswami profile last year, the article chronicles a number of instances to underline the group’s rightward lurch.

# First Post editor-in-chief R. Jagannathan began attending Forbes India meetings in February 2013 as part of a planned integration.

“Glancing at a sheet of paper he had arrived with, Jagannathan yelled: ‘You’re doing it wrong. Forbes is about the wealthy. It’s about right-wing politics. You guys are writing about development and poverty. If you guys don’t get it, I’m going to make sure that you do.”


# “Last year, CNBC TV18’s Vivian Fernandes, who co-wrote Raghav Bahl’s book, was despatched to interview Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. A person involved with the production of the interview recalled that Fernandes asked a difficult question about water conservation in Gujarat.

“Modi’s organisers had asked to see the questions before the interview, and demanded the water conservation question’s removal.

“When Fernandes sprung it on him anyway, Modi broke away from the camera and glared at a public relations executive in the room.

“‘Why is he talking like this?’ the person recalled Modi saying. ‘Are we not paying for this interview?'” The production crew realised that the interview was part of a promotion for Modi.”


# “In the weeks leading up to the group’s first Think India conference in April, Raghav Bahl told his management that he wanted to start a foundation called Think Right.

“CNN-IBN editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai and deputy editor Sagarika Ghose, objected to the name, believing that it was certain to be misinterpreted. ‘they believed that ‘right’ would come to mean Hindutva, you know?’ a person involved in the discussions said.


# “‘There was a concerted effort to drive a large visible campaign to prop up Narendra Modi in the run-up to the Think India platform,’ former Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta said.

Each channel, publication and website had to carry promotional material of some kind. ‘They wanted a Modi cover story from Forbes India.'”


# At the group’s senior management getaway in Macau in early 2013, “the editors’ mood sank further when Raghav Bahl let the large gathering know he favoured Narendra Modi as India’s next prime minister.

“Until last year, Rajdeep was the most important person here. Now after Mr Ambani, Modi is the most important person.'”

“I spoke to the editor again in the middle of November. ‘It’s serious. They have started putting indirect pressure on editors to not criticise Narendra Modi,’ the editor said. ‘I think Think India was created to promote him.'”


# “Early on November 9, Rajdeep Sardesai travelled to Nagpur to meet RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Two senior editors in touch with Sardesai independently confirmed that Raghav Bahl had pressed him to meet Bhagwat and other RSS leaders.

“‘Raghav is keen on promoting right-of-centre policies. He believes Indians have enterprise in our blood,’ the person involved in the decision over the Think India foundation’s naming said.”


# “Network 18 is not alone in its rightward swing, but as Modi’s value in the attention econmy continues to rise, no one in English-language broadcasting has traded more on his appeal than CNN-IBN.

“For four days in October and November 2013, the Centre for Media Studies, an independent thinktank in Delhi, monitored the primetime political coverage of some major English news channels.

“Of the five they surveyed, CNN-IBN covered Modi for over 72 minutes, a greater duration than anyone else. At the same time, it covered Rahul Gandhi for approximately 18 minutes.”

Also read: ‘Media’s Modi-fixation needs medical attention’

How Narendra Modi buys media through PR

Modi‘s backers and media owners have converged’

‘Network18′s multimedia Modi feast, a promo’

For cash-struck TV, Modi is effective TRP

Not just a newspaper, a no-paid-news newspaper!


  1. Disillusioned

    Jaggi actually said, verbatim, “Get it through your head…” to the FI team, and “Don’t talk nonsense to me…” to IG when IG told Jaggi, “You have changed your mandate now. We are open with our team, and discuss things with them.” Post this the gloves were off, and the whole team knew it was a sinking ship.

  2. Dear Churumuri

    You have forgotten that if any journalist who uses traffic terminology of right and left is a prejudiced animal even before he begins to type out the first word of his report. It is like a judge who has his own notions of right and wrong, and not the law of the land, delivering a judgment. The entire post-Godhra reporting in the English press is a tribute to the travesty of journalistic values. A journalist who wears secular/communal lenses is not a journalist but a politician. And, who doesn’t know what secularism in India is? If a journalist is a leftist it means his right eye is blind. If he is is a rightist he is blind in the left eye. Shame, shame and more shame on English journalism which has not produced one journalist who could ask Sonia Gandhi why she doesn’t meet the press, why she is so secretive about her health and finances? Let the Behls and Sardesais brag. Has Vvivian the guts to ask an unscheduled question of Sonia Gandhi? He got the snub he deserved.Why doesn’t one killing fields editor or the Editors’ Guild itself file a PIL in the Supreme Court demanding that she appear before the press and give an account of her actions?


    1. Matheus

      Oh, and why not talk about Partition and uniform civil code and you know, a bunch of other things?

      If you haven’t noticed, this is about a rightward tilt of a media group which the media group itself seems to be calling a rightward tilt. No one is saying its a horrible thing or brilliant.

      Looks like you have other axes to grind too. Tell us about them in detail. Its comforting to talk about things that bother one.

      1. Matheus, perhaps you should answer the question, since you seem to be eager to answer something. How many journalists have asked unscheduled questions of Mrs. Gandhi? How many of the journalists who’ve collected air miles by the million in digging up Gadkari’s drivers did an investigative report into the Indian Herald affair in their own backyard? The fact is the press is tilted leftward or more appropriately congward and that should also be open to discussion. Irrelevant nonsense about the partition and UCC don’t answer the basic question, would such a story be carried about the left-congward tilt of the media?

      2. not your fault that some right wing types are also obsessively compulsive. the automaton repetition of the same argument follows the Goebbelsian logic that repeating a lie ten times makes it a truth. certain medicines are available.for a start try Ayurveda

  3. Mysore Peshva

    “Right” and “left” are vacuous terms that mean nothing but, instead, obfuscate the complexity of issues.

    Any reasonably intelligent person would hold “left-wing” views on some issues (e.g., free speech) and “right-wing” views on other issues (e.g., family values.) Further, any reasonable person would evolve in those views with age, experience, or education.

    The Indian English-language media ought to avoid the trap of discussion of issues by “right” or “left” and instead focus on the contextual merits of each issue. Otherwise, it would do a deceptive disservice to the reading public (as it has, sadly, done in its overwhelmingly “right-wing-therefore-evil”) coverage of the complex politics practiced by Narendra Modi.

  4. Vishnu

    Right and left may be terms to debate. But it is clear that the media in India is paid to promote the BJP. That is unheard of and does not look good for Indian politics and democracy.

  5. anshul

    its only trust, and trust is all i have to take your mind away. now i don’t.

  6. There is no doubt that the Indian media has let down the public as much as the other institutions. The rest are at least accountable constitutionally while the media only collects freebies and doesn’t want to be answerable! Whenever there is a demand for a fair and neutral Indian media, they cry in the veil behind freedom of expression and free press. Much like the hoodlums in the parliament who tom-tom about the supremacy of parliamentary democracy and being elected representative of the people. Do these leading lights of Indian media realise that to serve their own vested interest (a hike and fancy promotion which means zilch after you are retired and frail to even have an erection) they chose to destroy institutions of Indian society ?

  7. i m not a modi fan, but how about covering how NDTV covers COngress and is a sister wing for the dynastic family.

  8. It was perhaps Thomas Sowell who once said,
    ‘If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.’ The Big Brother is watching,isn’t it?

  9. Sam

    The entire article is now available online and can be read here –

  10. Vidya Chitre

    Why so jaundiced against Hindus? Who were owners of network 18 earlier? Were’nt u disturbed by their anti hindu pro congress stand then? Hypocritical agenda driven journalism by caravan that needs an RSS to get fame.

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