Month: October 2012

Times versus Zee

Naveen Jindal’s press conference exposing Zee Group has pitted Times Group against Zee Group. Zee editors Sudhir Chaudhar and Samir Ahluwalia said Times Group engages in paid news. Front page reports in Economic Times are paid for. Reports in Bombay Times and Delhi Times are paid for. Madhur Bhandarkar paid for his interview. Medianet belongs to Times Group. Medianet people approached Aamir Khan when 3 Idiots was about to be released and promised him four stars rating.

Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd, the company that owns Times Group, has decided to send a legal notice to Zee Group for defamation. It is interesting to see one media house against another in court. If there is no out of court settlement Zee Group will have to call Madhur Bhandarkar and Aamir Khan as witnesses. It will be embarrassing for Madhur Bhandarkar to say he paid for his interview and for Aamir Khan to say he paid for rating. Paying for rating is useless. Most people do not care about film reviews by critics and how many stars are assigned. They depend on what others say. There are people who attend first day first show. For them rating is immaterial. Ratings may make the producers and directors feel good and boost their egos.

Producers, directors, actors, and actresses of films about to be released appear on news channels. Do they pay for the appearances?

Samir Ahluwalia said “At least we’re doing a proper, transparent deal with you, not running a paid front page story.” Extortion by blackmail is not a transparent deal.

SEBI versus Sahara

On 27/10/2012 SEBI came out with half page advertisements drawing attention of Bond Holders of Sahara India Real Estate Corporation Ltd. (SIRECL) and Sahara Housing Investment Corporation Ltd. (SHICL). It said – DON’T BE FORCED !!! DON’T BE MISGUIDED !!!

The Supreme Court vide its order dt. 31/8/2012 had directed the two Sahara companies to refund the amounts collected by them through red herring prospectuses along with interest at 15% p.a. to SEBI within 3 months i.e., by 30/11/2012 and to furnish all relevant documents to SEBI within 10 days.

SEBI ad said the Saharas have not submitted the relevant documents. SEBI has been receiving complaints from investors that they are being forced by Saharas/their agents/officials to switch-over their investments to other schemes in other Sahara Group Companies. Some investors have also complained that their investments have been switched over to the said schemes of Sahara Group Companies without their consent. SEBI advised the subscribes to the Bonds of SIRECL and SHICL to hold on to the original documents relating to Bonds and produce the same to SEBI when called for an not to yield to any pressure from any person for converting or switching over their investments in Bonds to any other Schemes like Q Shop etc.

Sahara owes 24,000 crore rupees to investors. It is trying to avoid making those payments. Sahara came out with full page ads on 1/9/2012 claiming they have done lot of good work but instead of getting a pat on their back faced injustice from a faulty system. Sahara blamed Income Tax Department, Reserve Bank of India and the machinery (SEBI?) that presented the facts incorrectly before the Respected Judges of Hon’ble Courts. Sahara did not say they will honour the Supreme Court judgment and refund the amounts to investors. Instead of spending crores of rupees on ads it would have been better for Sahara to use that money to refund the investors.

Naveen Jindal stings Zee News

It is poetic justice when a sting operator gets stung by another sting operator. Zee News had conducted sting operations on some people. Naveen Jindal conducted a sting operation on them and exposed them for blackmail and extortion.

Zee News telecast sting operation by Tehelka. Bangaru Laxman was sentenced to four years for taking 1,00,000 rupees for New Year’s Party from two persons who claimed they sold arms. What should be the punishment for editors of Zee News and Zee Business, Sudhir Chaudhary and Samir Ahluwalia, who demanded 100 crore rupees as advertisement payment over four years? Their original demand was 20 crore rupees which went up to 100 crore rupees. There were negotiations for three days in September. If Zee News got ads there will be no negative reports about Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL) in all Zee channels and DNA, English newspaper belonging to the same group.

Bangaru Laxman got bail after many months. The persons who gave money were not sentenced. Sukh Ram who was guilty of taking a bribe of 3,00,000 rupees got bail within days.

In March suddenly DNA came up with some reports about corruption in defence deals. Then they stopped. What happened? Who gave them ad contracts? Renuka Chowdhury was a target. What did she do to stop DNA?

JSPL had filed an FIR against Zee Group on 2/10/2012. They had submitted audio and video tapes of conversations. On 10/10/2012 Broadcast Editors’ Association (BEA) set up a three-member committee to investigate allegations made by JSPL. On 18/10/2012 BEA sacked Sudhir Chaudhary as treasurer and terminated his primary membership.

JSPL also filed a complaint with Press Council chairperson Markandey Katju and submitted copies of FIR and documents to prove that Zee sought advertisements for Diligent Media Corporation Ltd that publishes DNA. Katju forwarded the complaint to Jagdish Sharan Verma, chairperson of News Broadcasting Standards Authority.

On 25/10/2012 Naveen Jindal went public and released 15 minutes of video clips. A politician had conducted a sting operation on a news channel. Normally it is the other way round. The hunter had become the hunted. Jaya Jaitly and others who were at the receiving end of Zee News telecasts must be smiling.

Zee editors defended themselves. They said they were offered a bribe. They went with a dummy contract. Their defence is hollow. Naveen Jindal has demanded the cancellation of licences of Zee News and Zee Business.

The issue is not of paid news or false news. It is of blackmail and extortion. They are crimes. Many newspapers and news channels demand ads from governments on birth and death anniversaries of leaders and other occasions. It will be nice if Manish Tewary and other politicians expose them.