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.

So?

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 Tehelka.com 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?
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Comments

  1. Hello Bhagwad,
    Nice blog. Logged on to it accidentally while searching for my kind of “historical truth” that may be trash from your point of view. Ergo, let us agree to disagree for a simple reason, that our opinions shape up from countless contributing factors, very difficult to connect / collate to judge / diagnose the correct / incorrect accurately.
    That aside, you come across as a forthright guy. Of course, I fully agree with you that there is a decent ways to disagree and avoid arrogance or abusive language.
    Honestly, I did not like this post much. The mail in question is absolutely TRASH, but your comment on it is a give away. It has a familiar sound of a well-to-do, successful, upper-middle-class guy.
    As regards canards / rumours, such stuff emanates from decent disgruntled media sources or political lobbies and need not be discussed.
    As regards Media bias, let’s face the fact that it exists. Especially, the English language TV or Print media, behave with stiff upper lip and consider it infra-dig to be called Hindu, which is evident from their sound-bytes or written words.
    As regards authenticity of information, more than suspect it is mostly mischievous. So why bother about such things anyway. So it is better left to decay without notice.
    But, honestly, it was good to visit your blog and read some of the old posts too. With warm regards and season’s greetings – K R Vaishampayan [alias – KRV]

    Reply

  2. Bhagawad,

    After going through all the comments, i just feel..” one more pseudo secular ”

    anyway it would have better if you had answered the questions raised by…..JAYENDRA with out avoiding them. (these questions are legitimate)

    Jayendra
    August 17, 2011 at 9:09 am · Reply
    GREAT ARTICLE > impressed, BUT…………… LOL one thing baffles me is the following:-

    1. Why NO MEDIA is trying to focus on the Kashmiri Hindus, as more Hindus have been killed than say Muslims in Gujarat.
    2. Absolutely NO Doubt in my mind that MODI was responsible directly OR indirectly for the slaughter of Muslims, But equally so were the Congress against the Sikhs, than why ONLY HOUND Modi?
    3. It is an accepted fact that there is CONVERSION going on in India from Hindu to Islam and Christianity > why does the media not expose this?
    4. Muslim Population > this as a Percentage has DOUBLED since Independance, is that correct?
    5. HINDU Population in Pakistan now at 2%, in 1947 it was at 7% ( Excludes East Pakistan) where have Hindus gone?

    I will appreciate your input on this.

    cheers,
    Madhav

    Reply

    • In reply to Madhav

      Madhav,

      The farther back something happened, the less important it becomes to me. The Babri demolition for example was so far back, I don’t care about it anymore. Similarly the Sikh riots took place in 1984 – I was just two years old then. It has pretty much zero interest for me as an urgent matter.

      A decade later, I’ll probably forget about the Godhra riots also. More recent events take precdence over old ones.

      As for your other points, what is wrong with conversion? Let it happen. You personally can choose not to convert no? I don’t know about the Muslim population increase, but really who cares? As for Pakistan, not my concern.

      Reply

  3. Bhagwad,
    Thanks for making my belief firm that Indian media is run and controlled by players outside India. After going through the entire post followed by the series of discussion between you and Ketan (seemed to be endless), I finally got that you are what you are in your last reply (July 31, 2012) to Madhav.
    “The farther back something happened, the less important it becomes to me” is your opinion but you are defending the National English media who daily makes its way to abuse Modi on 2002 riots, happened too much ago.
    “What is wrong with conversion?”…I may say that you are in person (I know, personal comments are banned on this paid site of yours)…in person you are a foreign particle claiming to be an Indian. If Pakistan is not your concern then I’m sorry people are wasting time on your blog.
    I doubt your name is Bhagwad, but people are addressing you here by this name and you are not objecting.
    It is notable that your domain is a commercial like and attractive one, designed willfully to attract Hindus.
    You are a pseudo Indian, pseudo Hindu.
    I have pity on your schooling and the background in which you are brought up.

    Reply

  4. U R DECEIVING PEOPLE BY USING THE NAME BHAGWAD , THOUGH U R A CHRISTIAN? NO NEED FOR ANYONE TO COMMENT ON A BLOG BY A DECEIVER.

    Reply

    • In reply to RAVI

      I’m an atheist actually, but yes I was born a Christian.

      You don’t think a Christian can have the name Bhagwad? Obviously your knowledge is lacking something no?

      Reply

  5. Bhagwad, if you are unbiased and an atheist, then you should have no problem in watching this and
    publishing this comment here on your blog. Thank you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmj-_BB6zWY

    Reply

  6. Amit kumar says

    eye opener

    Reply

  7. A naked fact is almost our media is controlled by foreigners may be Christian Missionaries or business men. There is no end of justification by writing this or that way but the fact is fact. My objection is the media can be by Indians business houses or persons honestly and perfectly and directly answerable to Indian public. Even OCI should not be be allowed to have more than 25% shares. India is not a Banana Republic,it is a democratic country.

    Reply

  8. Hi,
    At first I thought to leave your blog without giving much attention but having looked at your efforts to post responses on comments I realized that you are interested in engagement and not just ‘shoot & scoot’, which is appreciable.
    I hope it is not just for gaining more hits (and hence financial benefits) but to open up a discussion on something of profound relevance to the nation.

    While some of the contents of the media conspiracy theory may be absolute trash but the reply from your friend cannot be taken on face value. I mean, what is his authority on these matters? true, he works in that field but then that doesn’t make him an absolute beacon of knowledge on this matter. If there is really any such conspiracy, neither every tom/dick/harry would know about it nor he would throw his cards away so easily. He is more likely to be like you or me, doing his job well and earning a living. A thing like this would be ‘above his pay grade’ :).

    Wondering if your responses to comments were well researched or just because you had to say something?

    “A decade later, I’ll probably forget about the Godhra riots also. More recent events take precdence over old ones”

    It’s exactly like saying you’ll forget about terrorist attacks in Taj, Mumbai because we have had few recent ones. Individuals can forget such events but nations don’t and they shouldn’t. We ought to remember those events as failures and something which must not happen again. Justice cannot be different for different communities, irrespective of time.

    “what is wrong with conversion? Let it happen. You personally can choose not to convert no?”
    Absolutely nothing is wrong with conversion only if it is on the spiritual basis but mass conversions cannot be spiritual. It’s a personal matter, like you chose to be an atheist not your whole family/community subscribed to it after watching a youtube video.
    If you choose to look around you’ll find a lot of stuff that’ll tell you about cajoled conversions or properly forced conversions thru social pressure. Like if you are the only family in the village who has not converted, you will be made a social outcast unless you convert too. There are other aspects too but I think I made my point.

    “How does it matter if “Christian missionaries” own the media (even if it’s true)”

    If it’s true, isn’t the fear natural given the history of missionaries all over the world and 95% of Indian conversions were those who followed one of many Hindu traditions?
    Christian Missionaries have been part of a sustained campaign to convert forcefully during British India(and America and Africa etc) and even now. I agree such missionaries have done a lot of good work on human development but they were driven by a mission to convert which has more political and geo-political agenda then just the ‘salvation of mankind’.
    Since they had funds for prolonged sustained campaigns, they were quite successful.

    Now, you posted that gentleman’s comment on another blog. It’s a bit naive; you are trying to publically humiliate someone who holds different views. His comments might look like another conspiracy theory but didn’t you think about it before writing your thoughts on such a powerful medium? You got to be thicker skinned my friend.

    So, in all, you can’t say your friend has necessarily exposed the myths. He, in his capacity, has definitely rejected certain claims but that’s about it.

    Cheers!

    Reply

    • In reply to Utkarsh

      Several points.

      1. I don’t believe that in today’s world, conspiracies can be kept secret for long. Especially one on such a large scale as is being hinted at by people. No one – not even at the highest level of government – can truly keep such huge scams private. With Wikileaks, people like Snowden releasing documents and even sting operations right here at home, the days of elaborate large scale conspiracies is long past.

      2. While we can certainly take lessons for the past, the emotional value of tragic events fades as time passes by. I was just two years old during the 1984 riots. I really can’t bring myself to feel too much over it. Sure, the prosecution can go on in court and we can draw lessons from it. But the amount of time and energy devoted to them cannot be a constant.

      3. I would call something a “forced” conversion only if it happened at gunpoint. I don’t mind emotional blackmail and social pressure. What is religion anyway? Changing your religion can be like changing your clothes. Today I’m Buddhist, tomorrow I’m atheist, and the day after I’m a hindu. I see no problem in this. http://www.bhagwad.com/blog/2011/politics/how-do-you-force-someone-to-convert-to-a-religion.html/

      4. I also think that context is necessary. Just because christian missionaries did bad stuff hundreds of years ago doesn’t mean it will happen now. The world has changed. This is why I get irritated with people who talk about how Muslims invaded India in the past etc. Who cares? The world is not like that now.

      5. I’m not sure whose blog you’re referring to…where else did I post this?

      Reply

      • In reply to bhagwad

        First of all, you are entitled to have your opinions but when you blog it, you are open to criticism and counter claims.

        Now going pointwise:

        1. It’s only your opinion. In our country where there is no tradition of releasing national archives even after 30 yrs, on pre-txt of national security, such theories can run forever. Like where did Subhash chandra Bose go, Indian govt. rejected a PIL on the basis that it can derail India’s relations with some countries.
        Wikileaks, itself is a source of conspiracy. Think about it, US/UK government doesn’t quotes Wikileaks for anything, it is only the conspiracy theorist who look to substantiate their claims thru Wikileaks.

        2. Obviously, YOU can move on but ask someone who has lost his/her family’s only bread winner. They can never move on and by the way a nation can only move on once justice is served.

        3. That’s my point, you don’t understand religion anyway then why worry about conversion, It was not your original topic of discussion. You could have said ‘I’m an atheist , I don’t believe in conversion’.
        For you religion is like changing clothes but it matters a lot to many in India.

        and did you say you don’t mind black mailing??? may be that’s how atheism works, but sane minds and communities don’t approve it in any form.

        4. Conversion is still happening in India, though volume is lesser. Most vulnerable are the poorest of poor sections of the society. You are an atheist, should you have a more unbiased approach? You look bright enough so why not do some research and take an informed approach.

        5. I was talking about this- http://www.bhagwad.com/blog/2012/personal/hilarious-internet-comments-4-i-doubt-your-name-is-bhagwad.html/

        Cheers!

        Reply

      • In reply to Utkarsh

        I don’t recollect complaining about criticism :) . So why are you assuming that I’m bothered by it? Carry on and criticize as much as you want! This is an open forum after all…

        1. Indians have their own traditions of leaks. Leaks by definition happen outside government control and culture. The government itself might not want something to be known, but if it’s big enough and if its effects are sizable enough, it can’t be kept secret. Especially not in today’s world. So in my opinion, if there is no sting, no documents, no whistleblower over years and years, then there is no conspiracy.

        2. Certainly those who are affected cannot move on until justice is served. That is good. But those affected are vanishingly small in number. I’m not for a moment suggesting that the cases should not continue. Or that the courts should stop paying attention to it. It’s just a law of nature that as time goes by, people forget. And that again is a good thing. It allows us to start fresh without getting dragged down by the past too much.

        3. Oh, I understand religion for sure! I used to be religious and both my parents are religious as well. It’s true as you say that for most people changing a religion is not like changing clothes. But there’s no law that says a person has to actually believe a religion. As far as the law is concerned, religion is what you put on a piece of paper. That’s it.

        4. I’m not sure what you’re referring to about conversions. Are you saying the poorest of the poor are being forced to convert under gunpoint? If so, that is wrong. But I’m not sure if that’s what you’re talking about…

        5. That comment you’re talking about. I’m not humiliating him for holding different views. I’m laughing at him for being rude, talking about irrelevant things like my name, and saying stupid things like my blog is specifically designed to attract hindus! I mean what does that even mean? That some fonts attract hindus like honey? I’m not really sure what your objection is.

        Reply

  9. Good read.

    Now for the ownership using credible sources rather then talking from their ASS
    http://www.newslaundry.com/2014/02/05/who-owns-your-media-4/

    Reply

  10. enuf of ROFL now reply this :

    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.

    Reply

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