Indian Media tamed by major conglomerates- Editors are now useless, readers helpless, worthless !!!

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta , a senior journalist, editor and broadcaster based in New Delhi  writes in his column  titled Loss of plurality is worrying, dictated to Shruti Pushkarna in MXM India:

….This sort of an acquisition is part of a growing trend of ‘corporatization’ of the media where big business houses such as the Aditya Birla Group and the Reliance Industries group are investing into existing media groups. Through this process of consolidation, they are also bailing out these groups.

…What this means is that the media in India is going to become less plural, it’s going to be dominated by relatively fewer groups. What you are really seeing is, large corporate groups exercising greater dominance on the media. Now there are two implications.

..This, in my opinion, is going to result in a loss of heterogeneity, resulting in a loss of plurality. In a sense, the oligopolies that are going to be formed will also impact the listeners of content, the viewers of content, or the readers of content. The content they get will be less heterogeneous.

..these trends towards ‘cartelization’, or the formation of these giant corporate conglomerates is not going to lead to greater plurality as far as the consumers of content are concerned.

…For instance, Living Media which includes, Aaj Tak, India Today, Headlines Today and Mail Today, these publications or these broadcasters are unlikely to publish anything negative that could affect the business interests of the Aditya Birla Group. 

…Even if on paper, the editors have the autonomy and independence to publish what they like, there could be subtle forms of censorship wherein editors would feel constrained or would think twice before publishing any story that could in any way go against the interest of the promoters of the company that control these media conglomerates.

Read the full column: Loss of plurality is worrying

Singhvi Sexcapade: India Today Group folded its tent without resistance!

India’s Gutless Media

Achal Mehra writes in LittleIndia

That a deep pocketed media house like the India Today Group folded its tent without resistance in the face of Abhishek Manu Singhvi’s legal threats, while an obscure activist with a checkered free speech history dared to resist, is a permanent blot on a storied media house, for which it owes its readers and the public an apology and an explanation.….But the notoriously inept, reckless and wimpish Indian media elected to censor the video, huffing and puffing about press freedoms, prurient interests and privacy rights instead to obscure their own failures at being scooped by activists and the social media. As a result, few Indians have actually seen the video, even though nearly a million people have viewed it online on YouTube, Twitvid and other social media sites.

…..The conduct of Aaj Tak, Headlines Today and India Today, among the country’s preeminent media companies, who were in possession of the CDs, is especially troubling. The India Today Group, which controls these three media houses, raised no public objection to the blatant censorship attempt, seemingly advanced no defense on behalf of the public interest, and instead, by all accounts, consented meekly to the court order and surrendered the CDs. 

.…According to Singhvi’s legal pleadings, several political leaders contacted him on March 23 and 24 about the CDs being in the possession of journalists. If true, why didHeadlines Today and Aaj Tak not broadcast them or disclose that they possessed them during the three weeks before Singhvi went to court to have them censored?

Click here, to read the full article..

Singhvi Sexcapade: Social media did not violate any high court order

Singhvi in Catch-22 situation: If Singhvi claims right to privacy (in this case),he will he would have to admit the contents of the clip was correct.

Video clippings allegedly featuring Senior Advocate and former Congress Spokesperson, Abhishek Manu Singhvi has quite literally been all over the internet. Although Singhvi was quick in securing an ex parte injunction from the Delhi High Court against three media houses who were in possession of the CD, by then the damage had already been done with the video going viral on the internet.

social media did not violate any high court order..” 

says, Apar Gupta, Partner at Advani & Co, a reputed law firm. He said in an interview given to  Bar & Bench (http://www.barandbench.com), a legal matters related website that,

“… the Delhi High Court granted an interim injunction against the driver who captured and morphed the footage.., and some television news broadcasters ( Aaj Tak, Headlines Today and the India Today Group). The interim injunction was not a John Doe injunction and would not have been applicable against any other parties except the ones, which were named as defendants in the suit…”

Pranesh Prakash of Centre of Internet and Society, another legal expert in these matters opined that:

“…. sites such as YouTube are not broadcasting sites, rather they are being used to broadcast. This distinction, which is not important when it comes to television, is critical when it comes to user-uploaded content and user-generated content. Given that there are thousands of video-sharing websites, there is no way of ensuring that all of them comply with an Indian court order. “

Asked whether public figures have a right to privacy, Apar Gupta said:

“…If (in Singhvi’s case)  privacy would have been claimed, Dr. Singhvi would have been in a unique catch-22 where to claim privacy he would have to admit the contents of the clip (if not the clip in its entirety) was correct. Hence, defamation is an easier ground where he can claim the clip was morphed and hence untrue….”

Can Abhishek Manu Singhvi file a case of defamation against the social media websites for posting the contents of the CD on their websites, Apar gupta says:

” ….Social media websites are only a platform. The case would be on firm legal footing if he gave notice to the social media websites as to the precise URL which contained the defamatory contents and they failed to act within 36 hours to take it down as per the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011. I would also anticipate that if such a case was filed, social media websites would plead innocent dissemination as a defense.”

To the same question Pranesh Prakash says:

Again, I must clarify that social media websites have not posted the contents of the CD on their websites. Users of social media websites have done so.Should Mr. Singhvi be able to? The answer, I believe, should depend on whether the social media platforms were informed about the conduct of unlawful activity on their platforms and still chose not to remove it. The determination of unlawful activity should ideally be from a court. This, I believe is the correct interpretation of Section 79(3) of the IT Act, which deals with intermediary liability.

Read the full interview : Bar & Bench 

After RIL, now ABG, M&M & RPS Goenka onto India Today

Big business is eyeing the media space once again. Just four months after Reliance Industries invested in the Network 18 group in a multi-layered deal, leading business houses, including the Aditya Birla Group, are looking at acquiring 26 per cent stake in the Aroon Purie-controlled Living Media India.The other names doing the rounds for picking a stake in Living Media are Mahindra & Mahindra and the Kolkata-based RP-Sanjiv Goenka group. However, Aditya Birla Group seems to be the front runner for the deal.

Purie’s publishing empire, which is controlled through Living Media, also includes Business Today and a clutch of licensed magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Men’s Health, Harper’s Bazaar, Travel Plus and Harvard Business Review, among others. Living Media acts as a holding company and owns 57.1 per cent in TV Today Network, the listed company that owns the group’s broadcasting assets, besides publishing a host of magazines that include the flagship India Today. TV Today has four news channels — Headlines Today, Aaj Tak, Tez and Delhi Aaj Tak — and radio stations under the brand Oye FM. Living Media also has a joint venture with German media house, Axel Springer AG, for an auto magazine and an online shopping portal — Bag it today. It also has an alliance with the UK-based Daily Mail for the daily tabloid Mail Today. It straddles print media, television and the radio business apart from running the country’s most modern printing press, Thomson Press, in the outskirts of Delhi.

read full story: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/big-business-houses-eye-stake-in-living-media-/470743/