Saturday, December 11, 2010

Is NDTV trying to blindside Nation?

This entry to Media Hall of SHAME is NDTV take on latest material in Wikileaks which discussed how congress will indulge in caste/religious-based politics taking reference to AR Antulays statement post 2611

NDTV published the Wikileaks matter in toto in their article WikiLeaks: Congress party stung playing religious politics . They also highlighted a section which I guess they believed was most important section of the release.  They highlighted

The entire episode demonstrates that the Congress Party will readily stoop to the old caste/religious-based politics if it feels it is in its interest.

However, they chose to ignore a far more damaging section which read

While the killing of three high level law enforcement officers during the Mumbai attacks is a remarkable coincidence, the Congress Party's initial reaction to Antulay's outrageous comments was correct. But as support seemed to swell among Muslims for Antulay's unsubstantiated claims, crass political opportunism swayed the thinking of some Congress Party leaders. What's more, the party made the cynical political calculation to lend credence to the conspiracy even after its recent emboldening state elections victories. The party chose to pander to Muslims' fears, providing impetus for those in the Muslim community who will continue to play up the conspiracy theory.

It is interesting considering the fact that Guardian in their article US embassy cables: Mumbai conspiracy allegations 'outrageous' – US ambassador

The news published by NDTV WikiLeaks: Congress can stoop to old caste politics, says ex-US Ambassador to India on this regard also only give a miss to more damning section  but also missed mentioning congress playing religious politics when entire wikileak was focused on how congress played muslim card on AR Antulays statement.


New Radia Tapes nails Barkha Dutt

This entry to Media Hall of Shame should be read in continuation to be read Reply to Barkhas clarification in Radia Tapes

In her clarification on Radia Tapes  published in NDTV website under Barkha Dutt on the Allegations Against Her. She has put following in BOLD ALL CAPS


Now the new Radiia tapes released by Outlook seems to have nailed this claim. In the Radiia tapes, Radiaa was heard telling a gentleman who seems to be Shankkar Aiyyar

"Congress ne to statement Thank God issue kar diya. Barkha ne karwaa liyaa us se. Ki it's not about individuals." "Haan woh to maine dekh liya. aa gya na Manish Tewari ka". 

English Translation of the above.

Congress has Thankgod has issued an statement. Barkha got it done saying its not about individuals …. Yes I have seen Manish Tiwaris statement

So its amply clear that Barkha did speak to someone fairly high in congress so high that she managed to get Manish Tiwari to make a statement

Wonder how Barkha will now justify this? 

You can hear the audio here 25-188819-0-17-20090522-091706

Screenshots & relevant congress statement at that time

Digvijay Singh must first remember who called who?

This entry is not a strict Media Hall of SHAME but since it is a important subject and since this is happening in press, we have decided to publish here to keep records

Indian Express in their headline news Two hours before 26/11 attacks, Hemant Karkare called me to say his life under threat: Digvijay Singh reports

Speaking to The Indian Express today, Digvijay Singh said: “On November 26, 2008, at 7 pm, just about two hours before the attacks in Mumbai started, Hemant Karkare, the slain ATS chief rang me on my mobile and told me how his family and his life were blighted by constant threats from people annoyed by his investigations into the Malegaon blasts.

While in a video published by Starnews Digvijay Singh Says (translated from Hindi)

He was depressed.. I called him He didn’t call me … I called him and he said

Wonder how can Digvijay Singh forget details of such an important call when he remembers even words Mr. Karkare spoke!!

Screenshot and Video

In 1998; CBI had filed FIR against Prannoy Roy

It seems that Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had filed a case of criminal conspiracy against New Delhi Television (NDTV) managing director Prannoy Roy in 1998.

The background to the case seems to be long war between Star's CEO and the Government which began July 1996, even before Basu joined Rupert Murdoch's channel. 

Indian Express in an article CBI case against Prannoy Roy dated 20 January 1998 reports

Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case of criminal conspiracy against New Delhi Television (NDTV) managing director Prannoy Roy, former Director General of Doordarshan and present Chief Executive Officer of Star TV R Basu and five other top officials of Doordarshan.

The First Information Report (FIR) filed on the basis of “source information'' says that the undue favour granted to Prannoy Roy had led to a loss of approximately Rs five crore to Doordarshan. The FIR names Ashok Mansukhani, the then Deputy Director General (DDG) of Doordarshan, Harish Awasthi (DDG), Shiv Sharma, the then Director General (DG), S Kapoor, the then DG, S Krishnan, the then DG, Prannoy Roy, Managing Director NDTV and the television network too

According to the CBI charge-sheet, DD suffered a loss of over Rs 3.52 crore due to the ``undue favours'' shown to NDTV as its programme The World This Week (TWTW) was put in `A' category instead of `special A' category.

Outlook in its article Star Crossed writes

In the case of NDTV, CBI records show that Doordarshan gave the producers access—free of cost—to vis-News footage that was received by the Doordarshan Kendra at Bombay. The CBI dossier also shows that Roy was given microwave and satellite uplinking facilities without being levied the correct charges.

The CBI dragnet has also swept over other Doordarshan officials like Bimla Bhalla. Records in the possession of the CBI show that, apart from the favours shown in the case of The World This Week, Basu had also made similar concessions towards Roy in programmes like News Tonight and South Asia News Capsule. Records summoned by the CBI in the latter show that the rate at which payment was to be made to NDTV for this capsule was not settled when Doordarshan began broadcasting the programme.

The confusion arose when the costing committee arrived at a fig-ure of Rs 50,000 per episode and NDTV claimed a payment of Rs 1.76 crore at the rate of Rs 81,000 per episode. In a letter to Doordarshan, NDTV stated that this had been agreed upon by the then OSD (news) Bimla Bhalla. The dispute over the payment has, however, not been settled till now.

Bimla Bhalla , Former additional secretary, cabinet secretariat (RAW), joined Star as executive director in January 1997

NDTV did declare this in their prospectus released early 2004. The prospectus declares

The Company and its promoters have also been named in an First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in January 1998 against certain DD officials in relation to certain violations of rules by DD officials pertaining to certain programmes produced by the Company for telecast by DD. Till date, no case has been instituted against the Company based on the investigation carried out pursuant to the FIR.

Nothing much is known about current status of this issue 


“Its dressed up”

As per the latest tape released by Outlook

Radia calls up Vir Sanghvi on June 20, 2009, the day before his Counterpoint column appears in HT. Following is transcript of the conversation

Nira: Hi

Vir Sanghavi: Hi… Nira…

Nira: Ya Ya

“Vir Sanghavi: Wrote it…“I’ve dressed it up as a piece about how public will not stand for resources being cornered, how we’re creating a new list of oligarchs…” See the Examples I have given is the court case which says that Mummy will decide its all in family… Why should our gas be decided by mummy… I have given the example of they deal that was struck on Sasun after samajwadi party supported the government and they went back on deal ..

Nira: Hmmm…

“Vir Sanghavi: ……and they went back to their old position…. I have given the example of how spectrum is being allocated

Nira: Hmmm…

Vir Sanghavi: and I has said that while people have certain tolerance to corruption in this country.. they have no tolerance for people cornering their assets and cornering our scarce resources and what will happen is this country will become a country run by oligarchs like Russia who no body can control and Manmohan Singh must act as he basically giving away the future of the country

Niira Radia: Very nice, lovely, thank you, Vir.

Sanghvi : It’s dressed up as a plea to Manmohan Singh, so it won’t look like an inter-Ambani battle except to people in the know.”

Nira: very Nice

Sanghvi : ok…

Please note that this conversation was recorded at 1620 Hrs and Vir Sanghavi published his said counter point article at 2129 Hrs.

After the first tape, Vir Sanghvi had published his defense in an article Setting the record straight. In his defence he says

My view is that to figure out what is actually going on behind the scenes, a journalist sometimes has to appear sympathetic and even, to string along his sources so that they reveal their ultimate motivation. (Why are they really talking to you? What kind of article do they want?).

Dear Vir, Do you also classify above conversation as “a journalist sometimes has to appear sympathetic and even, to string along his sources” . To us in Media Watch it looked like a student reading back a prose to teacher who has dictated it and looking happy that she has approved it.

In another tape Nira asks her associate to prepare the questions for Vir (Sanghvi) of HT since he has agreed to ask whatever questions they suggest. She says that Vir is starting a new series of interviews and he wants to start with Mukesh Ambani or Ratan Tata. She asks Yatish to mobilise all resources to draw up the questions.

Please also read “What kind of story do you want?”

Friday, December 10, 2010

IBN should walk the talk

On December Sagarika Ghose, Deputy Editor of IBN CNN and wife of Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief IBN network tweets.


On December 10, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor in chief IBN network tweets.


Reminds me of phrase: Woh Kare to Atyachar… Hum kare to Chamatkar…rough translation (When they do it its outrageous, but when we do it it’s a noble act)

NDTV CEO gives reply, Guardian responds

The Sunday Guardian sent nine questions to NDTV in the interest of fair journalism, ranging from the "buyback" deal, tax avoidance, full and transparent declaration of financial accounts in India, and overseas operations. These are the questions:

Media seems to have wrong Priorities

It seems Media in India has totally different priorities.

Whole country knows Parliament is standstill for last 21 days. Reason: Opposition wants an JPC enquiry into Massive 2G Scam and Congress instead of relenting, is trying to dilute the demand.

If you are a parent, you would normally be worried on effect of such massive corruption on moral values of an innocent child. But it seems Media instead is worried on what would a child think when he sees protest against corruption will have! 

NDTV in their News Students watch unruly MPs in Parliament report how

how Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman K Rehman Khan today appealed to Opposition members to restore order in the House which witnessed uproar over the 2G spectrum issue for 21 days.


"School children are watching you".

Hindustan Times in their Article Students bemused by unruly MPs in RS also takes a same. line

If given an option what would  media  expect the child to see. A opposition blind and mute towards such a massive corruption?

Please read the news to see the dramatization by media


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

NDTV-ICICI loan chicanery saved Roys

News published in the Sunday Guardian

NDTV Limited and associate companies in which Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy have a majority stake have indulged in financial misdemeanours and malpractices in connivance with ICICI Bank, and raised funds by misdeclaration of the value of shares in NDTV. These shares were held by a company called RRPR Holding Private Limited. The deal took place between July and October 2008 during a "buyback" of shares from the stock market announced by NDTV Limited at the price of Rs 439 per share.


Share prices were in a period of boom at the time, and the company expected prices to rise even further. This is why it wanted to buy the shares back. Since the company did not have sufficient liquid funds to finance this purchase of shares, it took a loan from India Bulls Financial Services of Rs 363 crores, pledging 90,70,297 NDTV shares. This was in July 2008.

In August 2008, the stock market collapsed on the back of the subprime crisis in USA; the index crashed from about 22,000 to below 10,000. The price of NDTV shares went down from a high of Rs 394 to around Rs 100.

The collateral of the India Bulls loan, therefore, depreciated, compelling India Bulls to recall the loan. NDTV did not have the money to do so. They approached ICICI Bank to lend them money. ICICI gave a loan of Rs 375 crores in October 2008 against the collateral of 47,41,721 shares held by RRPR, at an average price of Rs 439, representing a gross value of Rs 208 cr.

This was the first financial malfeasance, since the worth of the collateral was far less than the amount given. This was further compounded by what can only be described as financial chicanery, since the price of the shares given as collateral was not Rs 439 but was actually Rs 99 in the market, as of 23 October 2008. The gross value of the collateral was only Rs 46.94 crores, or one-eighth of the loan given. ICICI, a publicly traded company in which the government and its institutions have a substantial stake, therefore accepted a lie purveyed by Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, the only two shareholders in RRPR. It is also important to note that RRPR did not own a single NDTV share before July 2008, authorised and subscribed capital of a mere Rs 1 lakh.

Shockingly, just days after the disbursal of the monies, one of the directors of RRPR Holding [there were only two directors, the husband-wife team of Roys], was granted an interest-free loan of Rs 73.91 crores from the funds that had suddenly come into this inert company through the ICICI loan. The ICICI loan was an open violation of the SARFAESI Act of 2002.

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs, who received the necessary intimations of all transactions, gave implicit acquiescence of the transaction by choosing to remain silent. RBI, which had also received this information, also kept quiet.

To put this malfeasance in context, last month CBI arrested eight senior managers of LIC and other banks for a loan scam amounting to Rs 2000 crores in multiple transactions. NDTV has been a frequent borrower abroad, and also selling stakes in subsidiaries abroad and repurchasing these shares through various interested parties at prices that have no relationship to actual market values. For instance, NDTV Imagine [now sold] shares representing a face value of Rs 10, were sold at Rs 776. The benefit of such high premium obtained by these shares has not reached the Indian investors in the company. NDTV shares, on the other hand, are slipping even further, and losses rising. Its business overseas is through subsidiaries, which conduct financial dealings through accommodation addresses; one is 90 High Holborn, London.


NDTV juggles funds, shares abroad, avoids tax

News Published on The Sunday Guardian

NDTV, through its foreign subsidiaries, is suspected to be indulging in gross violations of Indian tax and corporate laws. NDTV Network Plc, UK was set up in November 2006. Its balance sheets were not filed in India. This company has raised and invested huge sums of money in its subsidiaries, NDTV Imagine (now sold), NDTV Lifestyle, NDTV Labs, NDTV Convergence and NGEN Media Services. The main activity of the company seems to be that of buying shares, as detailed later. Even now, most of the deals being struck by NDTV are being transacted through this UK subsidiary, with no money seemingly coming to India by way of tax.

NDTV India group raised funds worth Rs 804.6 cr between April 2008 and September 2009 out of a total of about Rs 982.2 cr through foreign sources, primarily through its subsidiaries in UK and Netherlands.

NDTV Network Plc is registered in the UK, and its address — Seventh Floor, 90 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6XX — is an "accommodation address". The address also has Olswang Solicitors in the same premises. Olswang Cosec Ltd is Plc's company secretary and represents many other companies. CoSec stands for company secretary. Companies like Olswang Holdings, Olswang LLP and others operate from the same address. Plc does not have any employee.

But while the names of the directors of the UK subsidiary are available on UK's Companies House website and statements about its balance sheets, it is difficult to obtain information on the largest shareholder, NDTV BV as it is in Dutch. The only thing known about BV is that it is a subsidiary of NDTV India.

The accounts of these subsidiary companies were not attached with NDTV's balance sheet/annual report of 2006-07. It claimed exemption which was not available to it on the date of signing the annual report. This is required by Section 212(8) of the Companies Act 1956. The balance sheet was signed on 22 May 2007, and the company made an application to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs on 24 May 2007 for exemption in relation to nine subsidiaries, including overseas subsidiaries. So NDTV presumed it would get the exemption on the date of signing of accounts, at a time when it had not even applied to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs. The exemption was granted on 8 June 2007. The MCA overlooked the lapse. The Registrar of Companies too failed to penalise the NDTV for this offence.

To trace the financial jugglery involved in the whole process light must be shed on how these companies have been operating. In 2006-07, New Delhi Television Limited set up a legal entity in the Netherlands under the name NDTV BV, which in turn set up the NDTV Network Plc in the UK. The Indian company invested around Rs 57.45 lakh in the shares of NDTV Networks BV, thus making it its 100% subsidiary. NDTV BV, in turn, set up Plc as an indirect subsidiary.

NDTV Networks BV invested Rs 43.58 lakh in the shares of NDTV Network Plc UK, thereby making NDTV Network Plc UK a subsidiary of NDTV Networks BV, Netherlands, which, in turn, is wholly owned by the Indian company. Thus the Indian company is also the owner of the fellow subsidiary, i.e. the UK company through channel holding and NDTV admits NDTV Network Plc as an indirect subsidiary.

In 2007, NDTV promoted and set up as its subsidiaries five companies in India: NDTV Imagine, NDTV Lifestyle, NDTV Labs, NDTV Convergence and NGEN Media Services. Eventually these were made subsidiaries of the UK company. Of these five, NGEN is a 50:50 joint venture with Genpack.

NDTV also owns NDTV News Ltd, Value Labs and Astro All Asia Networks Plc, Malaysia.

In 2006-7, the Indian company also raised for working capital term loans to the tune of Rs 175 million. Stock options (ESOP) were also given to employees at concessional valuation when compared to the valuations made for raising capital overseas in the UK company from undisclosed sources. But, as mentioned earlier, NDTV's balance sheet/annual report of 2006-07 did not attach the accounts of these subsidiary companies. Was this done to avoid exposure in India of the financial jugglery in the accounts of the subsidiary companies, namely NDTV Network Plc UK and NDTV Networks BV, Netherlands?

According to the financial statements of the year ending 31 March 2008, "Shareholders agreement dated 23 May 2008 was entered into by NDTV, along with its subsidiaries NDTV BV, NDTV Networks BV, NDTV Networks International Holdings BV and NDTV Networks Plc with NBC Universal Inc and one of its affiliates Universal Studios International BV ('NBCU'), to divest to the NBCU affiliate a 26% effective indirect stake (on a fully diluted basis) in the Company through NDTV Networks International Holdings BV (a Netherlands based subsidiary of NDTV Networks BV) The said stake is divested at a price of US$ 150 million The agreement also contemplates that NBCU will be granted an option to acquire an additional effective indirect stake of upto 24% in the Company through NDTV Networks International Holdings BV in the third year of the joint venture at the then fair market value of the shares, subject to receipt of all necessary consents and approvals"

NDTV India further borrowed a substantial amount of money to fund its fixed assets in India.

The UK subsidiary also raised $100 million by issuing convertible bonds through private placements. NDTV's annual report of 2007-08, under the category of "contingent liabilities not provided in respect of" section, Page 67, says, "During the year, NDTV Network Plc (NNPLC) has raised funds by issuing $100 million convertible bonds due 2012. In connection with this, the company has given an undertaking to provide a corporate guarantee for and on behalf of NNPLC, as and when required. The estimated potential dilution on conversion will be between 20% to 30%." The entities to whom the private placement was made is not known.

In October 2009, NDTV announced a buyback of the 26% shares held by NBCU. In December 2009, New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) informed the BSE that the company had entered into a conditional agreement with Turner Asia Pacific Ventures, Inc. (TAPV) for the sale of most of its indirect stakes in NDTV Imagine Ltd (Imagine), which was held through its indirect subsidiary NDTV Networks Plc, UK. The total transaction size is $117 million and involves a sale of 76% of NDTV Imagine for a consideration of $67 million, together with the subscription of fresh shares in Imagine by TAPV for $50 million. Prior to the issuance of primary shares to TAPV, NDTV Networks Plc will retain a stake of 5% in Imagine. The transaction is subject to receipt of an approval from the board of Time Warner Inc (the parent of TAPV), and from regulatory authorities.

NDTV Network Plc, according to the annual report of the NDTV group for 2008-09, has invested a little over Rs 400 cr in its subsidiaries: Rs 383.43 cr in NDTV Imagine, Rs 14.64 cr in NDTV Convergence and Rs 29 cr in NDTV Lifestyle. The parties involved in these investments are not known. Moreover, on at least two occasions in 2009, the UK subsidiary, which holds a major stake in NDTV Imagine, bought shares of NDTV Imagine at astonishing valuations, as given below.

According to Form 2 filed by the company for Return on Allotment, on 7 July 2009, Plc bought 13,64,208 equity shares of NDTV Imagine at a price of Rs 776 per share (face value of Rs 10, premium of Rs 766) and raised Rs 105.98 cr. There is no information available in the public sphere on how these valuations were arrived at and whether a foreign agency was involved in valuing the shares of NDTV Imagine at such high prices. Interestingly, on the same day, the market value of NDTV shares was Rs 126 per share on the Bombay Stock Exchange. This means that the shares were bought by the British subsidiary at more than six times the value of the parent company shares. Similarly, Form 2 filed for Return on Allotment on 3 December shows that the British subsidiary once again bought 920,632 shares of NDTV Imagine at Rs 788 a share, when the market value of NDTV shares were Rs 139. The total amount raised including premium was Rs 72.57 cr.

Mention must also be made of a November 2010 report that says US based Scripps Networks is acquiring 69% stakes in NDTV Lifestyle for $55 million. NDTV Lifestyle is held by NDTV Network Plc, UK. Take another November 2010 report, which says, shares of NDTV shot up by over 7% after the company announced that NDTV Networks Plc, has repurchased the $100 million coupon bonds due 2012.

Is wealth being created and retained abroad without any benefit to NDTV shareholders?


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

If you cant defend.. Deflect

It seems the Radia Tapes has split Indian journalists right in middle. A group probably representing older generation is now advocating much needed radical corrective actions to bring repute back to once noble profession and prevent it becoming synonymous to worlds oldest profession. But surprisingly as this older generation tries to cleanse the system another influential section of Journalists, the armchair types who you mostly find in TV chat(they call it discussion programs) have closed ranks.

Media Watch sees Swapan Dasguptas Times of India  column Time to fight the cancer, not join the lynch mob in this context.

Knowingly or unknowingly, It seems that Swapan has completely missed the core issue surrounding the Radiia Tapes. In his naiveness, Swapan tries to explain the outrage as an misplaced anger of “lynch mob” “against India`s entire wealth-generation process” who according to him has shown “gritty determination to overcome a difficult, if not hostile, business environment”

Media Watch is surprised that Swapan who is a regular in twitter has missed the most trending topic in recent times. It didnot read #Ambanigate or #Ratangate but it was #BarkhaGate and #MediaMafia which was trending as number 1 topic in India. So the anger is not against the wealth generation process of business houses. It is not even against Radiia who most of us believe was just doing her job(rather efficiently). The popular anger is directed against a prominent group of media ‘celebrities’ who have overstepped their brief by miles and played fiddle to current day neros of India i.e corrupt politicians. Yes sir…. the anger is against Wealth Generation activities but not of business houses but of Media houses. In short,  the anger is against corrupt Media the fourth pillar of our democracy.

Lastly, Media Watch is taken back by the audacity of Swapan to call ordinary man rising in anger against deep rooted malice as Lynch Mob. It gets more painful considering the fact it is written in an article where he himself praises how commonman of India rose against the tyranny of British Rule. Perhaps if Swapan could move from dance floor (proximity to politics, business and the media) to the balcony, he will realize that there are no Lynch Mob here. He will find here a motley crowd of engineers, businessmen , housewife, student who want nothing but a better and just India. But then it donot surprise us as Swapan was among the first to use the term ‘Internet Hindu’ perhaps he just upgraded the much maligned Internet Hindus to Lynch Crowd.

I am not a doctor but common sense tells me that sometimes its best and safest treatment for malignant tumor is amputation.

Why is TOI mixing Army with religion?

This entry to Media Hall of SHAME is shocking news item Muslim general to defend LoC in Times of India.

There was a time when India never associated our defence forces with religion. They were our Jawans defending the nation. But of late it seems media has broken this last taboo also.

Time of India reports

He replaces Lt Gen N C Marwah. Hasnain is only the second Muslim officer to command 15 Corps, a crucial shield against Pakistan's offensive intent.

As if this is not enough Time of India also reports

The last Muslim officer to have commanded the 15 Corps was Lt Gen M K Zaki.

It is shocking to read  TOI making it sound it so dramatic as if Indian Army donot promote Muslim Officers!!