Reliance taking over Network 18 - Death of Independent Media??

In two words? Quite likely.

India’s largest company Reliance Industries Ltd., which is owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, announced Thursday that it was taking over one of India’s largest media companies–Network 18 Media and Investments Ltd.

Network18 owns TV channels (including CNBC TV18, CNN-IBN, CNN Awaz), websites (firstpost.com, moneycontrol.com), magazines (including the license for Forbes India), entertainment channel (Colors, MTV and Homeshop Entertainment) among other businesses. RIL said it’s board approved funding of 4,000 crore rupees (or roughly $730 million) to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of which RIL is the sole beneficiary” for taking over Network18. (You can read the financial details of the deal here.)

Network18′s CEO, CFO and COO quit in the days preceding Thursday’s announcement. Earlier today the company’s founder and managing director Raghav Bahl and his wife, a director at the company, announced their exit as well, while there are strong rumors doing the rounds that the news division’s top editorial team too is on its way out. Indian newspaper Mint cited a few employees who described the situation as a “hostile” takeover.

Anger, panic and pandemonium aside, the takeover is a strategic move for RIL which is expected to launch its 4G network later this year and can use the wide range of content produced by Network18 to feed its telecom play. In its press release RIL said: “The acquisition will differentiate Reliance’s 4G business by providing a unique amalgamation at the intersection of telecom, web and digital commerce via a suite of premier digital properties.

This takeover, once combined with RIL’s telecom business, makes the combined group likely bigger than media baron Rupert Murdoch’s empire in India and bigger than any other media group in India. And that should raise some serous questions about it.

“If India’s biggest corporate conglomerate is also India’s biggest media company, what does it do to diversity of opinion, plurality of opinion, what it does do to unfavorable news coverage?” asks Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, an independent journalist and teacher who was a member of the Press Council of India where he co-authored a piece on “Paid News: How corruption in the Indian media undermines democracy.”

To be sure, India has several thousand newspapers and about 900 tv channels and a thriving social media. Despite that, there are only a handful of media companies that dominate the market and mainstream media still has a significant role in setting the agenda.

“What happens when big business interests get into the media business?” says Thakurta. “They influence what comes out into the public, what is heard and read…. [Suddenly] You have your large business groups, conglomerates determining what people read, hear, watch. It does raise concerns and questions about what happens to the voices of not just those who are contrary to RIL, but the marginalized?”

While the Network18 deal may be the biggest media deal in India, it is a very tiny part of the giant that is RIL. But the deal is important for other reasons, points out P. Sainath, an independent, award-winning journalist.

“It has the power to reach into every drawing room; the power to tell you what to read, see and think,” he says. “How will they [the Network18 journalists] have any chance of doing a decent story on the KG gas deal [where RIL has the rights to dig for gas and is in dispute with the government], the Radia tapes [taped telephone conversations between publicist Nira Radia and a former telecom minister and senior journalists where she's lobbying on behalf of several big corporate clients], how will they cover any damn thing? The greater the monopolization and corporatization of media, the less the space for smaller voices, differing voices, dissenting voices.”

RIL made its first investment in Network18 in January 2012 with a minority stake in the company via IMT. At the time it said it was merely an investor, recalls Thakurta.

“Now that Chinese wall has come crashing down,” says Thakurta. “Earlier the people who were investors are now the people who call the shots.”

Critics of the deal have also raised concerns about how this will impact the media’s coverage of India’s newly elected government. India’s corporate sector endorsed–and donated to–Narendra Modi and the BJP’s election campaign. So what are the chances that media companies–owned by some of those same corporate houses–will encourage independent reporting of its favored Prime Minister and government?

“Once upon a time the media took its role to question people in power very seriously,” says Sainath. “Media was the adversary. It would take on those in positions of power, whether in government or the corporate sector. Time alone will tell how that adversarial role will exist under these sort of corporate deals.” more  

View all 8 comments Below 8 comments
AAP consistently contesting elections is all states with fundametal zeal and focus is solution to all these problems. BJP / CONGRESS are not going to solve such types of problems. There is a huge list of problems of such proportions.

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Subject:
Reliance taking over Network 18
- Death of Independent Media??.

In two words? Quite likely.
India’s largest company Reliance Industries
Ltd., which is owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani,
announced Thursday that it was taking over one of India’s
largest media companies–Network 18 Media and Investments
Ltd. Network18 owns TV channels (including CNBC
TV18, CNN-IBN, CNN Awaz), websites (firstpost.com,
moneycontrol.com), magazines (including the license for
Forbes India), entertainment channel (Colors, MTV and
Homeshop Entertainment) among other businesses. RIL said
it’s board approved funding of 4,000 crore rupees (or
roughly $730 million) to Independent Media Trust (IMT), of
which RIL is the sole beneficiary” for taking over
Network18. (You can read the financial details of the deal
here.) Network18′s CEO, CFO and COO quit in the
days preceding Thursday’s announcement. Earlier today the
company’s founder and managing director Raghav Bahl and
his wife, a director at the company, announced their exit as
well, while there are strong rumors doing the rounds that
the news division’s top editorial team too is on its way
out. Indian newspaper Mint cited a few employees who
described the situation as a “hostile” takeover.
Anger, panic and pandemonium aside, the takeover is a
strategic move for RIL which is expected to launch its 4G
network later this year and can use the wide range of
content produced by Network18 to feed its telecom play. In
its press release RIL said: “The acquisition will
differentiate Reliance’s 4G business by providing a unique
amalgamation at the intersection of telecom, web and digital
commerce via a suite of premier digital properties.
This takeover, once combined with RIL’s telecom
business, makes the combined group likely bigger than media
baron Rupert Murdoch’s empire in India and bigger than any
other media group in India. And that should raise some
serous questions about it. “If India’s
biggest corporate conglomerate is also India’s biggest
media company, what does it do to diversity of opinion,
plurality of opinion, what it does do to unfavorable news
coverage?” asks Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, an independent
journalist and teacher who was a member of the Press Council
of India where he co-authored a piece on “Paid News: How
corruption in the Indian media undermines democracy.”
To be sure, India has several thousand newspapers
and about 900 tv channels and a thriving social media.
Despite that, there are only a handful of media companies
that dominate the market and mainstream media still has a
significant role in setting the agenda. “What
happens when big business interests get into the media
business?” says Thakurta. “They influence what comes out
into the public, what is heard and read…. [Suddenly] You
have your large business groups, conglomerates determining
what people read, hear, watch. It does raise concerns and
questions about what happens to the voices of not just those
who are contrary to RIL, but the marginalized?”
While the Network18 deal may be the biggest media deal
in India, it is a very tiny part of the giant that is RIL.
But the deal is important for other reasons, points out P.
Sainath, an independent, award-winning journalist.
“It has the power to reach into every drawing room;
the power to tell you what to read, see and think,” he
says. “How will they [the Network18 journalists] have any
chance of doing a decent story on the KG gas deal [where RIL
has the rights to dig for gas and is in dispute with the
government], the Radia tapes [taped telephone conversations
between publicist Nira Radia and a former telecom minister
and senior journalists where she's lobbying on behalf of
several big corporate clients], how will they cover any damn
thing? The greater the monopolization and corporatization of
media, the less the space for smaller voices, differing
voices, dissenting voices.” RIL made its first
investment in Network18 in January 2012 with a minority
stake in the company via IMT. At the time it said it was
merely an investor, recalls Thakurta. “Now that
Chinese wall has come crashing down,” says Thakurta.
“Earlier the people who were investors are now the people
who call the shots.” Critics of the deal have
also raised concerns about how this will impact the
media’s coverage of India’s newly elected government.
India’s corporate sector endorsed–and donated
to–Narendra Modi and the BJP’s election campaign. So
what are the chances that media companies–owned by some of
those same corporate houses–will encourage independent
reporting of its favored Prime Minister and government?
“Once upon a time the media took its role to
question people in power very seriously,” says Sainath.
“Media was the adversary. It would take on those in
positions of power, whether in government or the corporate
sector. Time alone will tell how that adversarial role will
exist under these sort of corporate deals.”





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I agree with you mr rao thoroughly. The current state of affairs in India is very much the same, the way you described. This country is being sold every second by some bureaucrats or the politician because the system has been transformed top to down for this purpose only by these motherland sellers. my email is arian21july@gmail.com and cell no is 9819476655 pls do read my blog whenever you have time to go through several issues I have written on.
http://yourrightisyourmight.blogspot.in/ more  
Ashok shital ji, After election results i almost boycotted watching TV news i follow from other sources.Not about my self what about others who are uneducated & follow the news by hearing Most of the vote bank is with them.Yes right from the beginning the print & electronic media are owned & biased to a party. But they never fall to such a low values as it is happening Nowadays. In past people seeing journalists as a true mediator between people & the system. But now the same people seeing them in negative ways.They lost the affection of the people.Sincere journalists are also suffering because of this. Now things are moving again in the direction of RAJAS & Maharajas. They place has been replaced by crony capitalists.Thats it .Rest every thing is same to same. If you are having a personal email ID i want to share an idea with you Or else your mobile. more  
Dear Mr Vijay Manglani, you words reflect adequately that you seem to be the sycophant of Ambani brothers who are fleecing this country off for years with the connivance of Indian politicians only to fulfill their vested interests. Didn't you see during elections how AAP was being battered by the channels and speaking high of BJP. BJP has 34% parliamentarians who have criminal cases against them. Narendra modi has approved of all those tainted people only to go to PM post. do you expect them to do well for this country? "ABHI TO ACHCHE DIN AUR BHI AAYENGE, DEKHTE JAIYE DOSTO, You must grow up first before teaching others. more  
Dear Rao, there is not the only this Network18 serving partial news, there are many more channels out there owned by politicians and favoring Congress and BJP that keep on denting the flawless image of AAP. the only hope we see in Indian politics. We must use our own intellect to know what is right and what is wrong. more  
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