Indian Media – Debunking Ownership Myths

There’s a horrible email doing the rounds regarding the Indian media. As far as I can tell, it originated on an article site much like a blog, so I have no idea who first came up with it. It’s irrelevant. The important point is that it’s been picked up by all sorts of people to validate their theories on the Indian media and even I have received it as an email forward – from my mother, who’s a trusting sort of soul and tends to believe things she receives in emails.

Now this doesn’t mean that the Indian media is a pure white entity whose farts smell of roses. My point is that certain popular criticisms are false and illogical. There can be many more that are true, but the focus of this post is on the specific accusations leveled in the email.

Last month, I had asked a friend of mine in the TOI about the perceived bias in the Indian media. Apparently he too had received this email from someone who asked him whether it was true or not. So in return for a favor I did him, he’s taken the trouble to expose the myths in this email point by point.

His initial response:

Hi M, Thank you for forwarding some of the funniest shit I’ve read in a while. But this is also rather amazing in many ways; definitely an email for a researcher or two to analyse further. Comes from far right of the spectrum from what I can tell. Far right of sanity too, if you ask me.

Quite extraordinary how Indian right-wingers are gradually coming to mirror American ones. Talk radio and television in the US served to spread the ‘good word’ among the right-wing faithful there, before the internet appeared to further help ‘like-minded’ and ‘patriotic’ Americans share ‘vital truths’. Not to mention mobilize.

Interesting to see that the net jump-started this phenomenon in India. The last fifteen years have seen so many malcontents spew so much bile online that you’d think India’s largest-selling pills are Liv 52. Besides email forwards like this (and others slamming Mahatma Gandhi, uncovering the ‘Shiva temple’ in the Taj Mahal, ones questioning the Nehru-Gandhi’s paternity – and also from the other side about ‘Jewish-Hindu’ conspiracies to eliminate honest cops, the Indian Army’s ‘Hindu terror’ connections and big business corporations running the government- and the like) you need only to check the comments section of any op-ed article that touches on matters vaguely ideological.

The internet’s clearly become a giant echo chamber for hyperactive desi netizens, not to mention all manner of wackos. It allows many to slam everything from sliced bread (‘western conspiracy’) to rock music (‘the devil’s work’). The Indian media is a favourite punching bag. However, when you do consider what news television (especially Indian language news channels) is like today, you can’t fault some of that criticism though. But even more respected print and TV names are often slammed as ‘biased’, ‘liberal’, ‘anti-national’, ‘capitalist’ and ‘pseudo-secularist’ (a delightfully illogical phrase I puzzle over, and even asked its originator – L K Advani – about. Didn’t get a very convincing or nuanced reply).

Since you ask I reply to as many of these as I can – from what I know.

But some of this stuff really takes the cake

BTW, India’s rules for FDI in media are quite tight: 26% cap on FI in general news, editors and all key executives must be Indian, most of the board has to be Indian, 51% in a single Indian entity etc.

Point by Point Analysis (Comments in bold):

Who owns the media in India ?

NDTV: A very popular TV news media is funded by Gospels of Charity in Spain Supports Communism. Recently it has developed a soft corner towards Pakistan because Pakistan President has allowed only this channel to be aired in Pakistan .

Hilarious. Communism, rather famously, never ‘got along’ with Christianity, or any other religion. Churches are still ‘officially’ banned in China and North Korea.  Besides, NDTV is publicly listed

Indian CEO Prannoy Roy is co-brother of Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the Communist party of India . His wife and Brinda Karat are sisters

True. But don’t see any hammers and sickles popping out of the subtext in NDTV broadcasts. Don’t see televised Politburo meetings either. NDTV is liberal, not leftist – by any yardstick. BTW, ‘co-brother’ is a phrase unique to Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Probably indicates where the author of this post came from.

India Today which used to be the only national weekly which supported BJP is now bought by NDTV!! Since then the tone has changed drastically and turned into Hindu bashing.

Perhaps NDTV would love to buy the magazine, but there’s just the small problem of a significantly larger news channel, Aaj Tak, being from the India Today stable. Could Pepsi buy Coca-Cola?

CNN-IBN: This is 100 percent funded by Southern Baptist Church with its branches in all over the world with HQ in US.. The Church annually allocates $800 million for promotion of its channel. Its Indian head is Rajdeep Sardesai and his wife Sagarika Ghosh.

LOL. Seriously. $800m is a LOT OF MONEY – about Rs Rs 4000 crores. National parties (Cong, BJP) are said to spend about 600-700 crores in a general election. If he was wallowing in so much moolah Rajdeep would be be urged to float a new party right away, forget running some channel. He could then join a ruling coalition and dictate ‘pseudo-secular’ policy, rather than just comment on it on the 9 PM news.

Times group list:
Times Of India, Mid-Day, Nav-Bharth Times, Stardust, Femina, Vijay Times, Vijaya Karnataka, Times now (24- hour news channel) and many more…

Times Group is owned by Bennet & Coleman. ‘World Christian Council¢ does 80 percent of the Funding, and an Englishman and an Italian equally share balance 20 percent. The Italian Robertio Mindo is a close relative of Sonia Gandhi.

ROTFL.Rather well known that Times is a privately-held corporation owned and run by the Delhi-based Jain family. J-A-I-N, interesting Indian Christian surname, don’t you think?

Star TV: It is run by an Australian, who is supported by St. Peters Pontifical Church Melbourne.

Sure, Rupert Murdoch, the world’s most famous and powerful media baron, hails from Australia. Wonder how come Pope Rupertus IV hasn’t made a hostile takeover bid on the Vatican yet? Aussie Rules at all convent schools then, Oi, Oi

Hindustan Times: Owned by Birla Group, but hands have changed since Shobana Bhartiya took over. Presently it is working in Collaboration with Times Group.

Shobhana Bhartiya is KK Birla’s daughter. HT and TOI are fierce rivals, their circulation duels in Delhi are the media biz equivalent of India-Pak cricket matches. Amusing; shows how much this guy really knows.

Indian Express: Divided into two groups. The Indian Express and new Indian Express (southern edition) ACTS Christian Ministries have major stake in the Indian Express and latter is still with the Indian counterpart.

The Hindu: English daily, started over 125 years has been recently taken over by Joshua Society, Berne, Switzerland .. N. Ram’s wife is a Swiss national.

Wonder if this chap’s ever heard of the Prophet Moses Society, Svalbard? A society of Nordic warrior monks, furniture manufacturers and bankers, they plan to conquer the world in one final crusade – unleashing a terrifying evangelical blitz of malfunctioning mobile phones, bio-weapon bookshelves and marauding polar bears. The bears would provide for shock and awe. In any case, hasn’t this chap read the Da Vinci Code, that masterwork of historical scholarship? Who needs proxies? Jesus lives! His kids are coming to help ‘pseudo-secularists’ finally take over India…

Eeenadu: Still to date controlled by an Indian named Ramoji Rao. Ramoji Rao is connected with film industry and owns a huge studio in Andhra Pradesh.


Andhra Jyothi: The Muslim party of Hyderabad known as MIM along with a Congress Minister has purchased this Telugu daily very recently.

The Statesman: It is controlled by Communist Party of India.

Actually, you should ask a Calcuttan this and then watch him splutter and choke on his macher jhol.

Kairali TV, kerala: It is controlled by Communist party of India (Marxist)

Mathrubhoomi, Kerala paper: Leaders of Muslim League and Communist leaders have major investment.

Malayalis may choke on avial – easier to survive I think

Asian Age and Deccan Chronicle: Is owned by a Saudi Arabian Company with its chief Editor M.J. Akbar.

Akbar left two or three years ago. Owner of both is Venkatram Reddy. Last time I checked Reddy was a wealthy Andhra businessman who also owns the IPL’s Deccan Chargers. Wonder when they became the Deccan bin Bakwaas Al Saud?

Gujarat riots which took place in 2002 where Hindus were burnt alive,
Rajdeep Sardesai and Bharkha Dutt working for NDTV at that time got around 5 Million Dollars from Saudi Arabia to cover only Muslim victims, which they did very faithfully… Not a single Hindu family was interviewed or shown on TV whose near and dear ones had been burnt alive, it is reported.

Tarun Tejpal of regularly gets blank cheques from Arab countries to target BJP and Hindus only, it is said.

The ownership explains the control of most of the media in India by foreigners. The result is obvious.

I can’t type anymore, I’m rolling on the floor, with some of my media colleagues. Wait, one of them is unable to get up! He…he’s frothing at the mouth, making strange noises, saying something about a deeper conspiracy…

‘Bugs in air conditioning ducts”… “churches-shmurches, naah! Media is party organ, Chairman Mao’s organ. The Chairman is well. Damn Chinese bio-tech… everywhere…(aargh)…but our Dear Leader shall return; shall lead revolution…glorious march forward (splutter). Lal Salaam Comrades…(choke)”.

Damn, he isn’t moving anymore; and his hair’s on fire.

There’s another informative response to this email over at Learning to be Terse.

How much information on the Internet sounds like th stuff above. Most of us have neither the time, nor the inclination to check the facts for ourselves. Now indeed one needs to be well informed to refute even a piece of junk. Something that most of us are not.

Hence, as a matter of policy, as far as conspiracy theories go, I like to get solid factual information from reliable sources. If not from the regular news channels, then from other areas – just like how Wikileaks has told us so many things that traditional news outlets haven’t. Even better, an informed consensus is one of the most powerful tools to make sure one isn’t being deceived. Whether it’s Climate Change or the issue of politically motivated large scale bias in the major media outlets.

What do you think of this post?
  • Agree (70)
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  • Don't Agree but Interesting (22)

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  1. I haven’t come across this email yet, but it is rather unfortunate that people choose to spread rumours without so much as ‘googling’ it to know the truth!!!

    However, Indian media is surely to blame, for the way they have turned into ‘TRP hungry monsters’ who lust after ‘Breaking News’!!! And yes, I do think they love Hindu bashing too. But I wouldn’t call them biased because they are not ‘wholly Indian’. That is ridiculous.

    Btw, I loved your friend’s style of expression!!!! Awesome! The explanations too, were an eye-opener!


  2. >> is a pure white entity whose farts smell of roses
    LOL :D

    >> Indian CEO Prannoy Roy is Saadu-brother of Prakash Karat
    Prannoy Roy is also a cousin of Arundhati. I wonder if she gets excessive footage on the chanel.
    Also, I think Mid-day is not a part of the Times group

    I think with an overload of information, there is a greater need of scrutiny, but there is also a greater chance of finding the truth, if we have the guts to stomach it. :)


    • In reply to Khalil Sawant

      More truth mixed with the truth makes it even more tough to separate fact from fiction. I trust Wikipedia though – because the facts usually link to references which are reliable…


      • In reply to bhagwad

        Yes, one good thing about Wikipedia is that one gets to come to know of multiple perspectives in matters of current affairs. But in technical matters, I actually find it quite updated and reliable, and it has helped me a lot in academics.


  3. The media like everybody else has an axe to grind. Within each channel there might be different shows that offer different perspectives on the same story. News (data) plus spin is what keeps some of us glued to our television sets. I am not sure whether there is a large audience for just news (data). It will get boring pretty quickly.

    This being said I tend to trust a story that I hear on television or newspaper that is operating within a given set of rules created by society (until proven otherwise by my own research or others) over something that is delivered to me anonymously.


    • In reply to Hari

      Yes, we must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Meaning that even if we know the media has an axe to grind, doesn’t mean that every story they report is false or biased.


  4. Thanks Bhagwad and your friend for taking the trouble to rebut this. I had also received this mail and found it mostly hilarious.

    As a mallu, I did splutter on my avial on the bits abt Mathrubhumi and Manorama and Kairali. They all have slight to moderate leans, to me most noticeable on Kairali. But this hardly ties into the ownership at all.

    Actually the email is a self-goal by whoever sent it, it refers to Manorama IIRC as foreign-controlled and insinuates that Kerala Xians are working for foreign interests or less patriotic.

    Ive long felt that the best medicine for Hindutva is Hindutva itself! Give a Hindutvan a soapbox and mic and let him speak. Watch any sympathy and support melt away. Its delightful to think of this as a self-curing disease, but I hope I’m not being too optimistic.



    • In reply to Jai_C

      That would really be optimistic! Maybe I just need to have more faith in the common sense of Indians :)


    • In reply to Jai_C

      Jai & Bagwat,
      I am a Mallu. What rubbish are you guy writing. Are you guys paid by these media to write such things.

      “”As a mallu, I did splutter on my avial on the bits abt Mathrubhumi and Manorama and Kairali. They all have slight to moderate leans, to me most noticeable on Kairali. But this hardly ties into the ownership at all.””

      For your info Kairali TV is controlled & owned by CPM – Communist Party of India. To start the channel they roamed all over kerala with buckets to collect money to start it. (bucket was a cover.. the party has lot of money through other means.. corruption.. ). So Jay!! how can you say “this hardly ties into the ownership at all”.

      Malayala Manorama is wholly owned by Catholics christians. And they openly say that they will project christian interest and Congress interest. Most of kerala christian bureaucrats like supreme court judges, police officers have openly said in church gatherings that their loyalty is first with the church and only later with nation. There were huge outcry in politics when they said this. So Jay to say it ” insinuates that Kerala Xians are working for foreign interests or less patriotic.” is acting novice. Church is controlled by foreign authority like vatican and other western evangelical groups.

      Mathrubhumi’s majority ownership is with Janatha party (V) chairman? Mr.Virendrakumar. So why is Jay rubbishing that :”this hardly ties into the ownership at all”.

      So you are part of this paid media syndicate.. Exposed…

      Now I am rolling on the ground with laughter!!!!!!! Ha Ha HA …..


      • In reply to Raj

        Not everyone who disagrees with you is paid. In my opinion, this is the danger of conspiracy theories. You see enemies everywhere. For example, you’ve clearly made a mistake in your deduction that I’m paid to write this. I would suggest you examine your thought process and find out where you made the mistake.


  5. Personally, I agree to a certain extend that the Indian media is biased but I would never say that every story published or reported is false or biased. Indeed I believe there is bias at certain levels, to certain degrees to certain issues.

    To get an idea about it, may I suggest you to read the following articles
    “Blotted out by Press: India’s Paid News Scandal” by P. Sainath

    Yet another article by the Outlook Magazine published some time ago on the same issue titled:
    “News you can abuse”. by Anuradha Raman

    The above are simply a couple of examples. However, much of what the paid news does is that they sell out their editorial space to parties or people who pay them and the english print media has succumbed to it several times. However, this time, what gets me going here was that the accusation has come from a totally unexpected and utterly biased or perverted source – the Hindutva nuts. I almost fell off the chair reading their claims in the email/blog article stating their views about media ownership and media bias.

    To my surprise, after reading that email content, I found that the accusations come from the very people who seemed to have benifited largely from the media at least in the last 2 decades. In fact, if there’s a party or a people who benifited heavily from media misinformation in the last 2 decades, it’s none other than BJP. If it was not for the nation wide media misinformation and disinformation, the meteoric rise of a party like BJP with baseless, pointless and brainless agendas, in just a matter of 15 or so years would not have been simply possible.

    In fact, I have even cited in my blog showing how the series of terror attacks that happened as recently as in 2008 been hyped by the media and who really benifited from it, in my article:
    “Some parallels between US9/11 and India’s 9/11” and how what led to the call for UIDs in India.

    Yet when I saw the Hindutva nuts point fingers against the MSM to be baised against them, I knew for sure that there’s was something definitely wrong about the email content and that’s what led me to this blog. Thankyou Bhagadh for posting it..


    • In reply to Indian4Change

      Thanks for dropping by :)

      Like you, I’m quite willing to accept that the media has its share of corruption, but not willing to go all the way and subscribe to the idea that it’s a completely controlled organization.


    • In reply to Indian4Change


      “…accusations come from the very people who seemed to have benifited largely from the media at least in the last 2 decades….”

      I4C must be reading/following very different media here! Almost none of the media I follow would fit that description- except a couple of rediff columnists. Unless the scope of media is limited to Organizer/ Panchajanya / Pioneer its not easy to make the above statement a true statement. I have hardly for a second found any of the leading ELM to be “largely benefiting” the “Hindutva nuts” leave alone 2 decades.

      Much of the discussion in the comment thread here and in the previous post is driven by some (strange) perceptions that the media is “anti-Hindu” and you vigorously and successfully countered that. You rebutted the charge that media are favoring a particular party -especially one family.

      And here comes somebody making the opposite claim, just in different words “benefited over 2 decades” and its gone pretty much uncontested!

      Let me step in here to the discomfort of any rightist/ non-rightist readers who may want to impute that one cannot recognize statements of bias if they fall inline with one’s own ideologies.

      I for one can. And will continue to for as long as possible.



      • In reply to Jai_C

        Thanks for pointing that out Jai. I think most of us here are pretty much done with this thread and hence the lack of interest :) . But I agree with you that it isn’t true that the media has been pro Hindutva. Of course, two decades is a longer time than I’ve been actively following the news and that’s another reason I didn’t specifically rebutt the statement cause I don’t know what the media was like in that time. But perhaps others can…


      • In reply to bhagwad

        BTW a slight retraction…. I started checking out TimesNOW channel again recently and they’re pretty shrill, esp Shri Arnab Goswami. Some of their positions seem to line up pretty well with BJP & Co. However I have seen them come down very hard on Hindutva communalism earlier and that seems to continue…. not very sure though.



      • In reply to Jai_C

        Thanks for taking the tie to delve deeper into that issue Jai :)


      • In reply to Jai_C

        There is no doubt in my mind that BJP benefited largely from Indian media bias or selective propaganda over the past decade or two and that’s simply the reason for the meteoric rise of BJP in just a matter of 15 or so years (apart from general public anger towards the Congress). However, when I say Indian media bias, I didn’t mean the kind of columnists/columns carried by the Rediff or Pioneer or Sify or the likes which are outright pro-Hindutva. Rather, what I meant was, the Indian mainstream media largely carried SUBLIMINAL messages for a decade or more that planted certain ideas/thoughts into the psyche of the Indian public, which in turn worked to the advantage of Hindutva or at least polarized the nation on the basis of religion. This polarization works to the advantage of BJP/Hindutva rather than to the advantage of India. The media carried numerous articles that did not appear pro-Hindutva outwardly but certainly worked to the advantage of Hindutva/BJP and that’s why I call it subliminal. I can give a classic example of the same.

        See the picture on the following link which appeared on the front page of 8 different mainstream media on the morning of September 22, 2008, (see the pic from the foll. link)

        The photo was of the 3 ‘terrorists’ that were arrested in connection with the Delhi bomb blast and presented to the public in a particular style. Do you see something strange about the photograph? If not a critique by Sadanand Menon titled “The uses and misuses of photographs” explains it all. (see the foll. link)
        The above is a classical example on how powerful the subliminal messages are in planting thoughts. Of course the identity of the individuals are concealed by the veil but at the same time the veil reveals the identity of the individual’s affiliation to a particular community. Thanks to the media, that today if you talk about terrorist or terrorism, one automatically thinks about Islam & Muslim. The same person forgets that if you were to talk about terrorism in the 80s, it referred to Punjab terrorism & not Islamic terrorism. In fact, 30 yrs ago (prior to 1979), Islamic terrorism was not there even in the world stage.

        A couple of other examples I have cited in my blog on the issue “Some parallels between US 9/11 and India’s 9/11” which I have cited in my preivous comment (or u can see in the link below)

        For e.g., using titles like “BJP ruled states under attack”, “BJP ruled MP under high alert” etc., is certainly aimed at garnering the sympathy of unsuspecting people as I’ve explained it in detail there along with other issues like the whole terror episode of 2008.

        I didn’t mean to say that all English media have the same degree of inclination to Hindutva but certain ones like the Indian Exp. is far more inclined than others like TOI which is more inclined than others. In fact, to a similar claim that I raised by commenting in a different forum, a writer/columnist for a pro-communist media even said: “Indian Exp. is titled for BJP”. There are articles where even the Delhi Union of Journalists have raised these kinds of issues related to media bias in other sources and the decreasing credibility of the Indian media at large. (see links)

        There are n-number of other examples where media actively propagates one issue while being silent on other, which I call selective propaganda. I can go on and on with examples and I don’t want to fill your comment space as you people are already done with this thread.

        So to conclude, my comment “…accusations come from the very people who seemed to have benifited largely from the media at least in the last 2 decades….” was not something which was directly visible from the mainstream media in favour of Hindutva but rather subtle, subliminal and yet powerful.


  6. Jai,

    It’s been real long we had any interaction. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see your response. Hope, you’re doing well. :)

    I don’t remember which comment you’re talking of on my other blog. Had something to do with the media?

    Anyway, I’ll check out the comments over there. Sorry for not having responded there.

    When I said “corporates like”, I’d meant to include all the big corporates whose phones were tapped (or even if not tapped as there is no way any big businessman could be assured of the case being otherwise; so now on they would still ‘play safe’ so as to not upset the NG family in any way). It is the fear & uncertainty that is the pivotal factor.

    It seems you are not convinced by my hypothesis. What’s your understanding of the entire fallout? I would like to hear. It’s alright with me however speculative your response be. :D

    I’ve been watching very little TV of late, but from few discussions that had happened over Twitter looks like there were major holes in Barkha’s response. As I see it, from tapes at least this much was clear that she had enjoyed tremendous trust of most powerful people in the Congress to have been provided info to be passed on to the front of their political ally, DMK, I.e., Niira Radia. Vir Sanghvi’s position is even less defensible.


  7. Some time back, I saw in a yahoo groups the ownership “email”. It is a shoddily created work. In the age of Internet, information should be verifiable else it becomes a theory, conspiracy theory at the worst. But the political-media-business nexus is pretty strong as one would see here:


  8. Mr Park:
    Just 3 quick points and I’ll be done-
    1. Why waste time analysing spam emails? And if that indeed is an area of interest (weird is the word then), why not extend it to an analysis/dissection of all spam emails covering wide-ranging topics? There are some circulated by Javed Ahmad and his cohort Teesta.

    2. It appears that you and another gent Ketan are the primary visitors on your blog. But that should not be allowed to affect the quality of what you put up on your blog. (For example, it is naive to argue that J-A-I-N or, for that matter, R-O-Y cannot be a christian surname. Indeed R-O-Y in the case of Arundhati Susan Roy turns out to be a rather christian surname!)

    3. What is your real name? For this “bhagwad jal park” (a naughty but unimaginative a dig at the party BJP?…no, am hoping you are better than that!) appears unreal – kind of an indo-korean cocktail, given that “Park” is a popular Korean surname !

    Let me close by stating that media biases are determined by looking not only at what gets reported and how (eg., tone, slant, distortion) but also at what does NOT get reported.


    • In reply to AP Keshari


      1. When spam emails become popular to the extent that people start quoting them in their arguments, they become dangerous and need to be debunked.

      2. Could you perhaps explain this point? I didn’t quite understand your view.

      3. My personal details are irrelevant to the discussion

      I agree with your last assertion. But those must be analysed carefully not simplistically. For example, one can’t say: XYZ paper didn’t publish this story, so it has ABC bias!


  9. While I don’t completely agree with the mail regarding ownership issues, the so called ‘debunking of the myths’ is a big joke without facts aimed at brushing away the accusations levelled (quite logically) against the media groups. Shame on the author for publishing an article without backup. Another piece of ‘paid news’ ? Can’t rule that out !


    • In reply to Indian

      Not everyone who writes something contrary to your opinions is paid! Believe it or not, there are people who actually think for themselves and reach an independent conclusion :)


  10. I believe the email.
    U people are seudo secular POS


    • kiran patel says

      In reply to Hindu

      Yes I too believe it and from the way these news channels reports , it is very obvious. And these guy is too a dole receiver


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