Can ‘Modi Sarkar’ create an Indian CNN or BBC?

The point has been made before but bears repetition. If Britain can have a BBC, if America can have CNN, if Qatar can have Al Jazeera, if China can have CCTV, if Russia can have Russia Today, why cannot India?

Why do Indian broadcasters, public, private or autonomous, not have the vision or the resources or both to establish a global news brand?

The veteran journalist Saeed Naqvi addresses the issue, in Deccan Herald:

“The media’s critical faculty has been so numbed over a century of colonial experience that it cannot, on occasion, separate news from propaganda….

“Not having our own means of covering world affairs, our media ends up using stuff which is part of someone else’s agenda.  It is sometimes inimical to our interests.

“Public opinion in India gets manipulated whenever the US throws a tantrum with, say Bashar al Assad. On Egyptian or Syrian elections we have only western versions.

“We do not have a single news bureau in SAARC countries, China, Japan, anywhere. For the world’s largest democracy, this is something of a shame.

“If we had a news bureau in Kabul, we would have been much better informed about the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat or the circumstances in which Alexis Prem Kumar was kidnapped. Must we depend on western journalists to inform us about Kabul, Jaffna or Kathmandu?

“Must the world’s largest democracy be a passive recipient of images beamed from news centres controlled by CNN, BBC, Reuters and Associated Press?

“This is a disgraceful state of affairs….

“New Delhi gives away billions in assistance to SAARC neighbours. It must take a leap of faith and concurrently invest a billion dollars in its own media which must also cover world affairs as comprehensively as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera.

“The returns in power, prestige, influence and business will be astronomical.”

Read the full article: Colonial mindset

Also read: Why hasn’t India thrown up a global media mogul?


  1. nava thakuria

    Waiting for a credible news channel in North East India
    As satellite news channels in various regional languages are booming in India and churn out sensational stories making a lot of hue and cry, the question of credibility of these media outlets also gets all the more pressing. India with a billion population has over 400 privately owned satellite news and current affairs channels, where most of the television media outlets are registered as ‘free to air’ with the Information & Broadcasting Ministry.

    As they carry the tag of ‘free-to-air’ these news channels are not entitled to ask money from the viewers directly. This implies that the news and related programmes, produced and telecast by these channels, are meant for free to the audience. The consumers have to pay only to the distributors namely the cable transmission agencies and direct to home (DTH) operators.

    The operating cost of these free-to-air news channels most of which are regional language ones are seemingly managed from the advertisement revenues. Indirectly it means, not the viewers but the advertisers always enjoy a say in the content of the news channels irrespective of its merit and authenticity.

    But totally dependent on the advertisement revenues, where the monetary contribution from millions of viewers never reach the management of these channels, one is left wondering how these television channels can pursue ethical and impartial journalism.

  2. Nam

    The question in your headline and lead para is odd. BBC is a public broadcaster in a liberal, democratic country (despite the monarch). BBC receives the bulk of its funding from the state but has editorial independence. CCTV is a public broadcaster in a communist country where the state controls its content. Al Jazeera is owned by the family of the emir of qatar, which is a monarchy, and so far al jazeera has been careful in what it says about the emir and his interests (did it report the accusations of corruption ref the olympic bid or just the rebuttal?). Russia Today is state owned. CNN is a private coproration. Which one would you like Modi Sarkar to use as a model?

  3. We have quantity, but we want quality.

  4. Abhijit Sinha

    Firstly, I am aghast, apalled and astounded. Et tu! We need a ‘sarkar’ in the newsroom? Then why not genuflect to crossmedia takeovers by deep-pocket Ambanis and cronies of such ilk?
    Which leads to the second point, with reference to friend Nava Thakuria’s just comment – as I read somewhere recently that nowadays any ‘builder’ wanting a regional TV channel in his name just needs Rs. 1 crore per month ‘extra cash’.
    So, basic issue is who will bell the cat? What does our venerable Press Council, Editors’ Guild, and the ubiquitous Broadcasters Association say?
    I agree we carry a lot of colonial baggage. But is Churmuri pushing the agenda of ‘Achche din aa gaye hain’ for an Indian world class media? Isn’t that a continuation of the colonial turned crony capital mindset?
    Do you really think any government in India will simply step aside from command control. Yes, I too heard what Prakash Javadekar said after donning I&B minster’s cap – that free Press means his ministry should become redundant. If wishes were horses….

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