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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Anonymous hacks BJP websites

NEW DELHI: A day after messing with servers maintained by Reliance Communications, Anonymous, an international hacker collective, defaced two websites belonging to BJP on Sunday. Through its Twitter account (@opindia_back) it announced and were hacked by the group. After the hacking, the group posted a message to web users, asking them to organize protests against "web censorship" in India on June 9. While the message was displayed on the homepage of, on it was inserted as a page at On Mumbai BJP website the message was accompanied by a catchy tune embedded through a YouTube link.

"Today they took away your right to use a few websites... day after tomorrow they will take away your freedom of speech and no one will be there to speak for you. Speak Now or Never," the message read. The hackers said that people should print out or buy Guy Fawkes Masks and wear them while protesting against web censorship in Bangalore, Mangalore, Kochi, Chennai, Vizag, Delhi, Mumbai and Hyderabad on June 9.

TOI reached out to Anonymous though Twitter, asking why it defaced BJP websites. ""Just needed a website to display our message," said the person managing @opindia_back. The Ion, who is likely a part of Anonymous and who uses @ProHaxor alias on Twitter, added, "BJP are the opposition they should have stopped this or should have organised a protest they did not do any."

Broadcasters show concern over attempt to delay cable digitization

NEW DELHI: With the deadline for digitization of cable addressable systems barely a month away, broadcasters are concerned that the June 30 timeline for the switchover may not be adhered to.Digital cable spells great advantages—a wider choice of channels coupled with better quality for viewers while it promises transparency in subscription and a lower carriage fees for broadcasters. Broadcasters across the board have supported the government's move supplementing it with awareness campaigns and industry tie-ups. 

However, now there is a growing anxiety among them as they sense efforts are being made to delay the shift to digital cable. Expressing concern Sri Adhikari Brothers (SAB) vice-chairman and managing director Markand Adhikari said, "From the last few days, it looks like there are some deliberate efforts being made by interested parties to extend the deadline of digitization. If this happens, it would be a cruel blow to the industry." He added: "Eight years of effort to introduce digitization will get a big jolt unless the message goes out that the process can't be halted. If digitization is halted, it means nothing has improved for the industry for a decade. Channels are promoting the digitization heavily on their respective platforms for the last two months. We will all look like fools." 

Disney UTV MD Ronnie Screwala warned against any delay in the switchover to digitization. He said, "It's been a 20-year wait for this and will be disappointing to see yet another extension. There is still a lot of work to be done — with consumers—with mindset changes and I think we all have had some years to plan this. Let's accept the timelines and move forward." Turner International India Ltd, South Asia, MD Siddharth Jain, also stressed the need to meet the deadline, saying, "Timely implementation of digitization is very desirable and the benefits would accrue to all stakeholders along the value chain. Consumers will enjoy better quality, tremendous variety in content and subscription revenues will see actual growth. Digitization is being successfully implemented in international markets in Europe and in Asia like Japan and South Korea and we are positive about the road ahead for India. We strongly urge the government to not delay the already announced sunset date." 

Tata Sky unleashes new Ad campaign as countdown begins to mandatory cable digitisation

NEW DELHI: Drop cable, upgrade to Tata Sky," reads the latest ad of the direct-to-home (DTH) service provider, as the cut-throat rivalry between DTH players and cable operators intensifies in the countdown to the first phase of compulsory digitisation in the top four metros by June 30. "Your TV will continue to run on your inverter even during a power cut...isn't this a reason enough to choose Tata Sky over cable," says another advertisement, as the DTH major unleashes its third phase of print and out-of-home (OOH) ad blitzkrieg to lure millions of cable users in the top four cities to its services. 

Vikram Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer of Tata Sky, says the campaign is directed at educating consumers so that they can make an informed choice."Our latest print campaign tells subscribers to do their homework before they buy a set-top box (STB) so that they chose Tata Sky and not just some dabba (box)," says Mehra. It's not targeting any cable operator, he adds.With over 9 million subscribers, Tata Sky is the second-largest DTH service provider in the country, after Dish TV. 

Last December, Lok Sabha passed the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2011, which makes it compulsory for cable companies to convert their analogue system to digital in a phased manner from June 2012. Consequently, in the first phase of digitisation, India's top four metros-Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata-will have to replace all analog television networks with digital transmission from July 1, 2012. This means that all cable subscribers would need to get digital STBs in order to ensure that their TVs don't go blank. By March next year, as many as 38 cities across the country would be brought into the digital fold. 

High-stake game 
While phase 1 has around 10 million TV homes in the four metros, over 90 million analogue cable TV homes are estimated to convert to digital by the end of fourth phase in December 2014. Stakes are indeed high for DTH players who have a ready, captive base of millions of analogue cable TV customers, who just need to install a digital set top box in their homes. 

LinkedIn crosses 15 mn user base in India

As the world’s largest social networking site Facebook Inc., which caters primarily to individuals, faces a slide in stock prices following its initial public offering (IPO), LinkedIn —a networking site that caters mostly to professionals and companies—appears to be holding its own, both globally and in India.Its user base has crossed the 15 million mark in India, according to country manager Hari V. Krishnan. India is LinkedIn Corp.’s largest market outside the US in terms of membership, currently accounting for 9.3% of the site’s overall user base of 161 million.

“This milestone (15 million) demonstrates that professional networking is becoming increasingly important to Indian professionals. In just three years, we have scaled our operations in India and our member base has grown by over 300%,” said Krishnan.LinkedIn started its India operations in November 2009 with a member base of 3.4 million. It is headquartered in Mumbai with an office in Gurgaon and a technology centre in Bangalore, its first such centre outside the US. LinkedIn was founded in December 2002 and launched in May 2003.

Krishnan attributed the growth to the tools the site has developed “that help professionals to stay connected, gain insights for their businesses, bag that dream job and ultimately, realize their professional potential. Today’s professional workforce is extremely mobile and we constantly focus on providing these professionals with simple solutions to deliver a seamless LinkedIn experience wherever they are.”

While he did not give details, Krishnan said that a little over 20% of the users connect to LinkedIn through mobiles, “and the number is only growing”. In India, members turn to LinkedIn to keep up with industry discussions, fostering their professional identity, networking with other professionals and learning about companies, according to Krishnan.

Ekta Kapoor to start a media school in Delhi

Balaji telefilm has provided a platform to many actors and technicians through her successful TV shows and films, and even trained showbiz aspirants through her Mumbai-based media school. Now Ekta Kapoor is set to open a branch in the capital too. 

Kapoor, the joint managing director at Balaji Telefilms, launched Institute Of Creative Excellence (ICE) in Mumbai in 2010 to provide industry-related courses and to bridge the gap between demand for and supply of professionals."We realised that 40 percent of applications to our Mumbai institute came from the north, and since Delhi is the hub of north India, we decided to have a set-up here," Anurag Gupta, CEO, ICE, told IANS.


Sunday, May 27, 2012

UGC withholds permission to upgrade IIMC Master Degree

New Delhi: The Information and Broadcasting Ministry's plan to upgrade journalism diplomas offered at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) to Masters level has hit a roadblock, with the University Grants Commission (UGC) withholding its permission for the same. The IIMC in New Delhi has now been asked to revise its proposal and submit it again to the UGC and the Human Resources Development Ministry.The IIMC, which is the country's premier journalism institute and its three regional centres in Aizawl, Dhenkenal and Amravati, currently offers Diploma courses in journalism and advertising.

In its Standing Finance Committee meeting held on July 15, 2010, the I&B Ministry had prioritised that it would seek equivalence to Masters Degree for the Post-Graduate Diploma Courses from the HRD Ministry.Consequently, the Ministry took its proposal to the HRD Ministry but the UGC did not agree with the idea after observing that courses and syllabi that IIMC had proposed for its PG Diploma Programmes was not found to be of Masters level in its current form.

Last week while tabling a statement showing Action Taken notes on a Parliamentary Standing Committee's observations on the I&B Ministry's Demand for Grants (2011-12), the I&B Ministry said that a revised proposal was now being worked at."IIMC has been advised by the Ministry of HRD to resubmit the revised proposal after taking into consideration the observations of the UGC so that further necessary action could be taken by them," the I&B Ministry had said in its statement.The I&B Ministry in its statement also said that the need for an act of Parliament for upgradation of IIMC to an Institution of National Importance was also being examined in the ministry.(Agencies)

Essel Group to become sole owner of DNA

In another deal that points towards consolidation in the Indian media industry, Essel Group and Dainik Bhaskar (DB) Group that together owned equal share in Diligent Media at the time of its inception in 2005 to launch an English daily, DNA, in Mumbai have come to an agreement, wherein Essel will buy out Bhaskar Group’s entire stake in the JV (joint venture).It is understood that the deal is done and in principle, Essel’s complete control of DNA is effective. The official announcement is pending for formalities that can take anywhere between “a few more days to a few more weeks” to be in place.

There is also an expectation that Essel may consider to launch DNA in Delhi soon to further build on the brand.Essel’s move to strengthen its control in Diligent Media has been seen, in measured steps, over the years.At the time of DNA’s launch in 2005, Bhaskar Group had both management and editorial control of DNA. But in 2009, Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Essel Group took charge of DNA’s operations. Around the time, Bhaskar Group’s 50 per cent stake in Diligent Media was diluted in Essel’s favour. While the figure was not made public, it was understood that Bhaskar’s stake was down to a minority of 38-40 per cent. This enabled Essel to leverage synergies with its media companies and DNA’s revenue function was aligned with the sales might of Essel Group’s television operation, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE).

As Essel gears to buy the remaining Bhaskar Group stake from the company, it is also readying to invest further to bring DNA on a growth path. A company official pointed out, “Essel is completely committed to DNA and will invest whatever it takes to grow the business. This is a business with potential and this year a breakeven is expected at DNA.” While Chandra of Essel Group was not available for comments on the subject, a highly placed company source confirmed Essel’s complete control of DNA to exchange4media, adding that the move does not imply any management changes at the company that is currently run by KU Rao as its CEO.

National media under fire from J&K Interlocutors

The interlocutors on Jammu and Kashmir have criticised the role of the media and journalists in the state for "inventing events for political game" and suggested a short-term training to hone their reporting and writing skills."The role of the media, too, has been complex, combining positive peace support with mistruths that undermine peace initiatives. Barring a small handful of anchors and reporters, the national media have underreported conflict areas and tend to focus on moments of violence or recrimination.

"The local media, by contrast, have given far more attention to peace process developments but--as occurs routinely in conflict situations–-there are some amongst them who are selective in what they report and biased in favour of one or another political position," the interlocutors' report made public today said. The report found "flaws" in the role of a few journalists who "invented" quotes for their stories which resulted in "stumbling block" for peacemakers.Commenting on the role of journalists in the state, it said "a few even go as far as inventing events and quotes for stories. To these few, journalism appears to be a political game rather than the pursuit of fact".

"The negative fallout from this kind of journalism is that it acts as a brake on peacemakers who wish to move forward from stated positions, especially amongst the dissident groups," the interlocutors said.The 176-page report of the interlocutors--Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M M Ansari, which was submitted to Home Minister P Chidambaram in October last year, recommended that curbs on Internet and mobile telephone usage need to be urgently reviewed.It has suggested newspaper editors in the state be encouraged to participate in the activities of the Editors Guild of India and other national and South Asian professional bodies.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Essel Group to become sole owner of DNA

In another deal that points towards consolidation in the Indian media industry, Essel Group and Dainik Bhaskar (DB) Group that together owned equal share in Diligent Media at the time of its inception in 2005 to launch an English daily, DNA, in Mumbai have come to an agreement, wherein Essel will buy out Bhaskar Group’s entire stake in the JV (joint venture). It is understood that the deal is done and in principle, Essel’s complete control of DNA is effective. The official announcement is pending for formalities that can take anywhere between “a few more days to a few more weeks” to be in place.

There is also an expectation that Essel may consider to launch DNA in Delhi soon to further build on the brand. Essel’s move to strengthen its control in Diligent Media has been seen, in measured steps, over the years.At the time of DNA’s launch in 2005, Bhaskar Group had both management and editorial control of DNA. But in 2009, Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Essel Group took charge of DNA’s operations. Around the time, Bhaskar Group’s 50 per cent stake in Diligent Media was diluted in Essel’s favour. While the figure was not made public, it was understood that Bhaskar’s stake was down to a minority of 38-40 per cent. This enabled Essel to leverage synergies with its media companies and DNA’s revenue function was aligned with the sales might of Essel Group’s television operation, Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEE).

As Essel gears to buy the remaining Bhaskar Group stake from the company, it is also readying to invest further to bring DNA on a growth path. A company official pointed out, “Essel is completely committed to DNA and will invest whatever it takes to grow the business. This is a business with potential and this year a breakeven is expected at DNA.” While Chandra of Essel Group was not available for comments on the subject, a highly placed company source confirmed Essel’s complete control of DNA to exchange4media, adding that the move does not imply any management changes at the company that is currently run by KU Rao as its CEO.

The expectation of breakeven is good news for the company that is seen as a loss making business. DNA’s launch in the media industry had seen it impact the monopoly of The Times of India in Mumbai, which is the single strongest market for TOI, but over the years, players such Hindustan Times and even tabloids such as BCCL’s Mumbai Mirror have asserted their presence with strong readership numbers. Mid Day saw renewed charge after its takeover by the Jagran Prakashan in 2010. 

Media observers pointed out that one of the reasons why Bhaskar Group may not be pursuing its initial interest in DNA was because of DB Corp’s focus on tier II and tier III markets. “DB Corp’s presence in metros doesn’t match up to the extensive and aggressive presence the paper has in other markets,” said an analyst. For Essel on the other hand, DNA makes sense, given Essel’s vast presence in media including Hindi news broadcasting. While Essel’s focus on DNA is expected to result into interesting developments in the English newspaper space in Mumbai and other metros, on an overall media industry level, it adds to the examples that the industry is looking at consolidation in various ways. 


Radio industry welcomes Copyright Bill

Lok Sabha on May 22 passed the Copyright Act (Amendment) Bill, 2012, empowering song writers, artists and performers to claim royalty for their creations. The Bill – that was passed by Rajya Sabha on May 17 – declares authors as owners of the copyright, which cannot be assigned to the producers as was the practice till now.The Bill makes it mandatory for radio as well as broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time a work of art is broadcast. It also bans people from bringing out cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation.

The Bill received overwhelming support at the Lower House, including from the Opposition, which appreciated the government for taking such a step, though belatedly. Meanwhile, the radio industry has also welcomed the passing of the Bill by both Houses of Parliament. Rabe T Iyer, Business Head, Big FM, called the development a positive, constructive and beneficial step in truly recognising the real owners of music and not just the labels who pitched and bought them. “Fair distribution of rights leads to increasing talent pool, greater accountability of quality and continued effort to innovate. This move will give radio stations greater flexibility to play music recomposed or readjusted by creators of songs and will lead to generation of more music and more musicians as they get their due,” he added. 

Prashant Panday, ED and CEO, Entertainment Network India Ltd (ENIL) too called the move good news for everybody. “It is a very good law for artists as they are the real innovators,” he said.“For us it means that our logistical nightmare has been lifted. Now we can play songs as soon as they release and pay the artists themselves,” he further said.

Shelling out royalty would not add to the cost for radio channels as they had already been paying the song owners a two per cent royalty. Along similar lines, Harrish M Bhatia, CEO, My FM also called the development “very good news for the industry”. According to him, this move would impact the radio industry in two ways – First, radio companies are saved from the logistics cost and they no longer have to run to all the music companies to take their permission for playing songs and secondly, it has become fair play. Now there is only one body, that is, the Copyright Board that they have to connect with and no one can exploit the market, all the players will be equal. On whether it would lead to a hike in cost for radio players, he said that since the royalty percentage was yet to be decided, it was difficult to say whether it would lead to an escalation in cost.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Copyright bill passes in Lok Sabha

On the last day of the budget session, the UPA government quickly pushed through a few important social sector Bills, including the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2012. A collective cheer went up in Bollywood after the Lok Sabha gave its nod to the Copyright Bill. Lyricist and Rajya Sabha MP Javed Akhtar told DNA that as of now song writers, singers and composers got royalty only one time for their creations as they surrendered the Copyright. But now authors will secure their royalties which can only be given to a legal heir. “When it comes to payment of royalties through other mediums, producers and authors must share that royalty in equal measure,” said human resource development minister Kapil Sibal while presenting the Bill in the Lok Sabha.

The Bill was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha with all parties supporting the cause to give creative artistes their dues whose benefits are allegedly cornered by the producers.The Bill makes it mandatory for broadcasters to pay royalty to the owners of the copyright each time their creation is broadcast. It also bans persons from bringing out cover versions of any literary, dramatic or musical work for five years from the first recording of the original creation.“This new law will secure the royalties of writers, composers, musicians etc which they had to legally surrender so far,” said Akhtar, who has been the most vocal amongst Bollywood personalities in demanding amendment to the Copyright Act enacted in 1957.

Sibal said that since the new law ensures that authors will remain owners of the copyright, it will help them live a good life when they grow old. “I remember when Ustaad Bismillah Khan came to me and said that he did not have money to pay his rent. I cut a cheque for him for one whole year so that he could pay his rent... I have known of artists who could not pay their hospital bills because the producers would not part with their royalty. The time has come to correct all these things,” Sibal said.Lata Mangeshkar, who had taken up the issue of singers’ royalty back in the 1960s, expressed hope that the new law will regulate the rampant copyright infringement on TV, radio and internet. “ I see my songs being sung on television by other singers while music companies are busy coming up with newer compilations of my songs,” she said, adding that there was no easy way of stopping such practices. “Now that the bill has been passed, how will they control the music companies,” Mangeshkar wondered.

Pak briefly blocks Twitter over contentious material

Pakistani authorities Sunday briefly blocked access to Twitter on the ground that it was being used to promote a contest on Facebook for blasphemous caricatures of the Prophet before Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani stepped in to end the ban.The Information Technology Ministry said Twitter was blocked for publicising “blasphemous and inflammatory content”. Calls for participation in the contest for blasphemous caricatures were being made on Twitter, the ministry said.

The ministry said Twitter was blocked after it failed to respond to several requests from Pakistan for taking action against blasphemous content.The ministry claimed it had contacted Twitter several times on fax but the site’s administrators had failed to respond.Late in the evening, Prime Minister Gilani’s daughter Fiza Batool Gilani announced on Twitter that the ban had been lifted. “The Prime Minister has ordered the IT Minister to restore Twitter service in Pakistan,” she said in a message.

Fiza Batool, who is the government’s goodwill ambassador for women’s empowerment, said in another tweet that she was with the premier when the order for ending the ban was issued.Twitter was blocked several hours after Interior Minister Rehman Malik claimed in a tweet that no restrictions would be imposed on the popular micro-blogging site.Users from across Pakistan reported that they were unable to access the site on their computers and mobile phones since the afternoon. The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocked access to Twitter directly without notifying Internet Service Providers, said Wahaj-us-Siraj, convener for the Internet Services Providers Association of Pakistan.

On Saturday, TV news channels had quoted Information Technology Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf as saying that the government could restrict access to Twitter and Facebook as the sites were being used to circulate blasphemous caricatures.The blocking resulted in many users of Twitter turning to Virtual Private Networks and mobile phone apps to circumvent the ban. Many users poked fun at the government’s crackdown and made Information Technology Minister Ashraf and Interior Minister Malik the butt of jokes.Shortly after Malik tweeted a message while the ban was still in force, journalist Zeb Aslam posted on Twitter: “Uh... isn’t it illegal for @SenRehmanMalik to be tweeting while Twitter is blocked?” 

TRAI to examine cross media ownership again

The issue of cross media ownership will be again examined by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) at the instance of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which has sought an examination of the issue.Sources said that I&B Secretary Uday Kumar Varma has written to new TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar on May 16 in this regard."Major players are looking for expanding their business interests in various segments of print and broadcasting sectors. In this scenario, issue of media ownership and the need for cross media restrictions assumes great significance," Varma wrote in his letter to Khullar.

Sources said that the I&B Ministry has asked TRAI to look into both horizontal and vertical aspects of cross media ownership, and then give its recommendations. In his letter, Varma has written that at present companies have control and ownership across Print, TV and Radio leading to horizontal integration.While at present there is no restriction for a company to have ownership across Radio, TV and Print mediums, but apprehension have been expressed in the past that control of media organisations in a few hands may prevent plurality of news and views, official sources said.

Varma, in his letter, is also learnt to have said that there were other implications related to cross media ownership including ensuring quality services at reasonable prices. The I&B secretary has further asked TRAI to look into the issue of vertical cross ownership where companies owning TV channels were venturing into various distribution platforms like Cable TV distribution, Direct to Home (DTH) and Internet Protocol Television (IPTV).The letter also points out that many companies, which own distribution platforms, were entering television businesses.

Sources said that the I&B Ministry felt that there was need to address these issues and measures needed to be put in place to ensure fair growth of the Broadcasting sector. They said that TRAI had earlier in 2009 examined the issue of cross media ownership and based on its recommendations, the government had also sponsored a study through the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI).The ministry has written to TRAI that with the convergence of various technologies in the recent years, the role of different players in Broadcasting needed to be looked at again so that measures allowing fair growth of broadcasting sector can be put in place.Sources said that once TRAI examines all aspects on the issue and releases its recommendations, the government could then release guidelines on media ownership based on the telecom regulator's recommendations.

Delhi High Court notice to media portal on defamation plea of Nirmal Baba

The Delhi High Court today sought the response of vernacular media portal -- bhadas4media -- on a plea by self-styled godman Nirmal Baba demanding removal of alleged defamatory articles on the website and Rs 21 lakh in damages.Delhi-based Nirmaljit Singh Narula alias Nirmal Baba, who has been in media glare recently, has moved the court seeking a direction to stop the Hindi portal from carrying alleged defamatory articles on its site.

The godman has not only sought removal of the write-ups from the site but also sought Rs 21 lakh in damages from the media portal and its managing officials. Justice Kailash Gambhir, while issuing a notice to the portal to respond by May 30, also asked Nirmal Baba to file copies of complaints and FIRs registered, so far, against him to judge as to whether the articles are defamatory or not. "Plaintiff (Nirmal Baba) is directed to place on record, the copy of complaints, FIRs which are registered against him. In the meanwhile, summons of the suit and the notice be sent to respondents (bhadas4media and Yashwant Singh) returnable on May 30," the court said.

The godman, in his plea, alleged that around 80 defamatory articles have been posted on the website."Around 30 TV channels show programmes of Nirmal Baba who has also got 3.70 lakh followers on social networking site Facebook and such write ups have defamed him," it said. Recently, Nirmal Baba has been in news as a slew of complaints have been filed against him and a larger bench of the Delhi High Court has also issued notices to the government on a PIL accusing him of promoting superstition. (PTI)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Fraud Nirmal Baba: Property worth R 70 cr bought in a month; Rs 34 cr paid in a day

Ranchi: It seems like controversies and money continue to pour in for Nirmaljeet Singh Narula, better known as Nirmal Baba. Latest reports reveal that Nirmal Baba paid a staggering amount of Rs 49 crore to one of country’s biggest realtors, DLF residency, in one month. According to media reports, the spiritual guru paid the company Rs 34.12 crore in a day. The entire  amount was paid through bank drafts and these drafts were made from the amount taken from Nirmaljeet Singh Narula's account (A/c no. 1546000102129694) at Punjab National bank.

On 28 April, four drafts were made: Nirmal Baba made payment to DLF residency through seven bank drafts between 7 April and 28 April. On 7 April, Nirmal Baba paid Rs 14.88 crore to the company and on 28 April he gave four drafts to the company (two drafts of Rs 2.06 crore and two of 15 crore). He also made two other bank drafts of Rs 2.05 crore on 26 April and Rs 9 crore on 10 May. These two drafts were sent to Panaji, Goa. Quoting Chief Editor of Prabhat Khabar, Harivansh, report states that Nirmal Baba's all business attempts have failed. His only source of income is the donations made by his devotees.The latest revelation has triggered a debate on how far is it justified to use the donations for personal gains. Last week, Nirmal Baba registered 6 acres of land, with the market value of over Rs 21.11 crores. (Source: Dailybhaskar)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bihar court issues Non-bailable warrant against Nirmal Baba

ARARIA: A Bihar court has issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against 'spiritual guru' Nirmal Baba. The court of Araria chief judicial magistrate Satyendra Razak issued the warrant on Saturday in connection with an FIR lodged by one Rakesh Kumar Singh on April 21. The FIR alleges Nirmal Baba made a false promise of fame and fortune to him and, in return, forced him to pay Rs 1,000 in three instalments between January and March 2011. The Baba allegedly also asked Singh to send him the counterfoils of the deposit forms through which he deposited Rs 300 twice and Rs 400 once in the Baba's account with Punjab National Bank. While he couriered the counterfoils to the Baba's Delhi address, he has preserved the courier receipt, the FIR said. According to Araria SP Shivdeep Lande, police investigated the case and found the accusation prima facie true following which he directed the investigating officer to move the court and seek the warrant of arrest. He has constituted a police team led by DSP Vikas Kumar which will now need the DIG's nod to leave the headquarters and arrest the accused. 


Aditya Birla Group buys 27.5 percent stake in Living Media India

The Aditya Birla Group on Friday announced it had acquired 27.5 per cent stake in the Aroon Purie-controlled Living Media India, marking an entry into the media business. Living Media acts as a holding company and also owns 57.46 per cent in TV Today Network, the listed company that controls the group’s broadcasting assets such as Aaj Tak and Headlines Today, besides publishing a host of magazines that include the flagship India Today. Thomson Press, through which Purie started his business, is a separate entity.

According to industry sources, the company has been valued between Rs 1,300 crore and Rs 1,400 crore. The Birlas have forked out nearly Rs 350 crore to buy the stake. The company has some debt on its books. “The media sector is a sunrise sector from an investment point of view. I believe that Living Media India offers one of the best opportunities for growth and value creation,” said Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group. The Birlas have earlier forayed only in the entertainment business and in 2003 launched a movie and television software production company called Applause Entertainment, best known for producing Hindi movie Black, starring Amitabh Bachchan.However, the company was closed in 2009.

Aroon Purie, Chairman of the India Today Group, said, "I am delighted to partner with the Aditya Birla Group to aggressively address the current and future potential of the Indian media business, which is at a tipping point. The Aditya Birla Group with its strong leadership, global footprint, diversified business interests and its shared values of integrity, commitment and social responsibility is a perfect fit with the India Today Group.” Ambit Capital is understood to have been the advisor for Living Media. According to sources familiar with the deal, other companies that had shown interest in picking up stake were Mahindra & Mahindra and the Kolkata-based RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Govt to re-look at IT rules after pressure from Opposition

NEW DELHI: In the line of Opposition fire for 'censoring internet,' the government has agreed to take a re-look at the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules enforced in April 2011. A motion to annul the rules was moved by CPM's P Rajeev in the Rajya Sabha. While the leader of Opposition in the House, Arun Jaitley, said as it was impossible to defy technology, "the days of censorship and days of withholding information were all over", Rajeev described the rules as "violation of the Constitution, which gives freedom of speech".

Jaitley suggested the government assure the House that it would re-examine the rules, following which communications and information technology minister Kapil Sibal was spared the possible embarrassment of annulling the rules. At the end of a two-hour debate, Sibal assured members that their concerns would be taken into consideration and that they would be invited to a meeting of all stakeholders to discuss the issue. He asked MPs to put down their objections in writing and words they had reservations about. "Jaitley, in his inimitable style, agreed and cautioned, and rightly so, that the interpretation of terms may lead to harassment and curtailment of free speech," Sibal said. The minister also congratulated Rajeev for focusing on the subordinate legislation.

Internet rules require that all intermediaries, which include those who provide internet, telecom, e-mail or blogging services, and cyber cafes, have to remove content that is, "grossly harmful, harassing, blasphemous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, pedophilic, libellous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically objectionable, disparaging, relating or encouraging money laundering or gambling, or otherwise unlawful in any manner whatever."

Anonymous hacks govt sites for blocking Vimeo

Hacker group Anonymous, has struck again and this time its much closer home. The group reportedly brought down the Congress website, the Supreme Court website and some other government websites in retaliation for India’s new Internet laws and the blocking of websites like The Pirate Bay and Vimeo.According to PCWorld , the group posted about the attack on their Twitter feed saying, “Namaste India, your time has come to trash the current government and install a new one. Good luck.”

According to their Twitter feed, the group targeted websites of the Indian Supreme Court, the All India Congress Committee,, Department of Telecommunications, the Ministry of Information Technology, and the Jammu & Kashmir Police. The Congress denied that its website had been hacked. “The site is not hacked at all. It was not opening for sometime because the load on the particular server was too heavy due to huge number of hits after the news of website hacking spread. It went slow at that time due to over-traffic,” Chairman of AICC’c Computer Department Vishwajeet Singh, a former Rajya Sabha MP told PTI.

Yesterday the Rajya Sabha had also debated the issue of Internet censorship with regard to the new IT rules. A number of members opposed the proposed law, which forced Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to say the government would strive to build a consensus on the subject.According to Medianama, Vimeo, The Pirate Bay, have been blocked because of a John Doe order taken by Copyright Labs, Chennai, from the Madras High Court, for preventing piracy of Tamil Films Dammu and 3.

Ansari’s Rajya Sabha TV swallows huge state resources

In creating an independent television channel to promote the Rajya Sabha (RS) and its members, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who is chairman of the Upper House, seems to have indulged in an extravagance that our stretched public resources can ill-afford.Headed by Gurdeep Singh Sappal, formerly OSD (officer on special duty) to Ansari, Rajya Sabha TV is soaking up money faster than a sponge does water. For 2012-13, the bill will be around Rs 73 crore. A high-level committee of the Upper House — the General Purposes Committee (GPC) — had initially (in May 2006) shot down the idea of a 24-hour TV channel for the RS and the issue had been put to rest.

That was until November 2007 when Sappal, then OSD to the chairman, requested the file on the initiative to “launch Rajya Sabha Television, which was eventually abandoned” to be put up for his perusal.Subsequently, in April 2008, when the GPC gave its ‘in principle’ nod to RS TV, the channel was proposed as joint project with Lok Sabha TV, under a common network called the Sansad Television Network. However, what transpired – the launch of RSTV as an independent entity – was neither approved nor endorsed by the GPC. This, despite members of another Rajya Sabha committee, expressing strong reservations about the creation of an independent channel. In December 2009, when the Rajya Sabha Secretariat informed the House Committee that the possibility of setting up an independent RS TV channel was being seriously considered after the integrated Sansad Television Network hadn’t materialised due to “some problem with the Lok Sabha Secretariat”, the move was strongly opposed by its members.

The minutes of that House Committee meeting (held on 16 December, 2009) state that the members “opined that setting up of a new RS TV channel by spending several crores of rupees may not serve any purpose, as it would not be run by experts in the field, thereby leading to production and airing poor quality programmes. Moreover, the exercise to project the members of the Rajya Sabha was not advisable as proceedings were already being telecast by Doordarshan…The members of the committee, Jaya Bachchan, NK Singh, and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, directed the joint secretary (of the RS Secretariat) that the GPC should be apprised of the observations made by the members as the former had already deliberated upon the issue.”

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Jayalalithaa under fire over advertisements

New Delhi: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's ad campaign worth Rs 25 crore to celebrate one year in power and highlight its achievements has been slammed by critics. Is this an attempt by Amma to position herself for 2014? The Rs 25 crore Amma splash in the national capital was tough to miss as national dailies carried four page adblitz of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister's one year in office.
It seems to have not gone down well with the Opposition, DMK, which questioned her functioning as a Chief Minister.DMK MP Kanimozhi said, "What work has she done?" 

Jayalalithaa perhaps wants to use her first anniversary in power to announce her importance on the national stage. One reason why the political class was cautious in its criticism was that AIADMK chief could play an important role in the changing political dynamics."The Union government too brings out ads. What is wrong in her doing so?" said BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu. Congress leader Ambika Soni said, "It is for the governments to decide how they want to spend their money." The Left was, however, unforgiving with Gurudas Dasgupta terming it as a wastage of public money.

While the political class discussed politics, Jayalalithaa was a hit on the social network as twitteratis took a swipe at the AIADMK chief. During the national security meet called by the Centre in April, Jayalalithaa’s parallel meetings with the chief ministers of some of the non-Congress states had taken the sheen away from the Vigyan Bhawan. It clearly seemed, besides acting as a focal point in the centre vs states battle, the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister pitching herself as a formidable leader of a possible Third Front.


MPs say media giving "undue" coverage to disruptions in parliament

India is increasingly becoming a "democracy of sound bytes" because of "undue" coverage given by the media to disruptions in Parliament and not to serious debates.This was the general sense expressed by politicians across the board who nudged the media -- both electronic and print -- to cover less the noise in Parliament and give more weightage and coverage to serious issues that are raised in the House.Politicians Arun Jaitley (BJP) and Mani Shankar Aiyar (Congress) spoke in a similar vein at a function to release a book - 'Straight Thoughts' - penned by Lokmat Media Chairman Vijay Darda when they rejected suggestions that politicians were "intolerant" in the wake of the Ambedkar cartoon controversy.

At a panel discussion moderated by senior journalist Rajdeep Sardesai, Jaitley and Aiyar said politicians are "more accountable" to people and to the media more than anyone in the society and they laugh at cartoons of themselves but oppose only when there is some sensitivity involved. When the MPs disrupt the house and go out, the media wait for their bytes and make it the news of the day. "If I make a decent speech, there is not a hope in hell that you will get two words in," was how Aiyar summed up his views. CPI(M)'s Sitaram Yechury was more vocal and lent support to Aiyar's views that India was increasingly becoming a "sound byte democracy."

He wanted to know how many newspapers and television channels properly had covered the impeachment process against Justice Soumitra Sen of Calcutta High Court. "This (India) is moving towards becoming a democracy of bytes. There are serious discussions which take place. For the first time, there was an impeachment of a judge. We were exercising the soverign right of the country through Parliament. But it won't get covered," he said. Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi said the country has achieved whatever it could because of the political leadership and added, in an apparent reference to anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare and his team, the "Jantar Mantar" demonstrations are "dangerous" for democrarcy.(DNA)

Karnataka High Court wants SIT to probe TV channels over March 02 violence

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court has brought media under the purview of the SIT inquiry into the March 2 violence at the city civil court complex.A special division bench comprising Justices Ajit Gunjal and B V Nagarathna said: "The SIT is also directed to investigate the broadcasting of certain news items by TV channels on March 2 and subsequent days..."."Sensationalism in the form of breaking news and flash news should be curbed," Justice Nagarathna said with regard to media, particularly TV channels.

The bench said: "Truthful dissemination is essential. Broadcasting cannot lead to any adverse impact on the integrity of India and security of the state. The essence of Article 19(1)(a) read with Article 19(2) is to have a free and balanced press and broadcast media. There has to be compliance with professional ethics in the dissemination of information by media, particularly electronic media, without any bias, malice or bringing out a conflict in society. In this regard, the Union government should consider the modalities of regulating broadcasting media, including a mechanism for addressing grievances."

The bench noted that the Cable TV Networks Regulation Act, 1995, has failed to address the issue as it does not include broadcasters. As regards NBSA or NBA, the bench was of the view that they don't possess legal sanctity to be effective.The bench directed the civil court registrar to evolve a system whereby media personnel can report without disturbing anybody. It suggested including a system of accreditation for mediapersons.The team will also look into complaints from lawyers, police personnel and mediapersons. The court asked the state government to provide necessary infrastructure to the team.

While setting up the SIT, the court said "this is no reflection on the state government or local police". Janardhana Reddy was produced before th CBI court. Scores of lawyers, media personnel and police were involved.The violence at the city civil court occurred the day former minister and mining baron G urt. Scores of lawyers, media personnele and police were involved.


Sakshi media seeks help from PCI against CBI's action

Hyderabad: Sakshi media house, owned by Kadapa MP YS Jaganmohan Reddy, on Wednesday filed an application with the Editors' Guild and the Press Council of India against CBI's action of freezing its bank accounts and the state government's decision to ban issuing advertisements to Sakshi Telugu daily and news channel.In separate representations to the Guild and the PCI, Sakshi editorial director S Ramakrishna Reddy lamented that the CBI's act has left Sakshi newspaper "virtually paralysed". "This is not only an attack on the employees of Sakshi media but also on the media and freedom of press. How can CBI indulge in this unlawful act of freezing the current accounts that impact livelihood of more than 20,000 persons, besides gagging media establishments", Reddy asked.

The CBI neither issued prior notice to the company nor informed the court concerned before freezing the bank accounts, he pointed out.While the Sakshi management has challenged the CBI order in the court, its employees also filed another petition in the state High Court, Ramakrishna Reddy added. CBI got the bank accounts of Jagati Publications, Indira Television and Janani Infrastructure, belonging to YS Jagan, frozen on May 8 as part of the investigations into the MP's disproportionate assets case. The next day, the AP government issued an order asking its departments, corporations and other wings not to issue advertisements to Sakshi newspaper and television channel.Sakshi management, however, did not get any relief as the special court of CBI refused to defreeze the bank accounts.


Magadh university to build a Rs 100 crore media centre

Bihar's Magadh University (MU) has decided to build a media centre on its campus at Bodh Gaya at a cost of about Rs 100 crore. The centre would help impart teaching in journalism and mass communication as well as prepare documentaries on e-classes and tourism, MU acting VC Arun Kumar said.According to Kumar, the media centre would be a state-of-the-art establishment equipped with latest technology and tools of media and mass communication. The UGC has agreed to provide financial assistance for it, he said, adding the details are being worked out by a team of experts.

Land for college: The state government has registered about 25 decimal land in the name of B D College, Patna, for its expansion. The registered land, located close to the college campus, has two dilapidated quarters of the water resources department pool. The college would now find it easy to expand its campus for academic purposes, said college principal B N Ojha. According to Ojha, the college has about 6,000 students on its rolls for degree and postgraduate (commerce) level studies. Besides, the college has introduced several vocational courses at degree level. It is all set to start MBA and MCA vocational courses soon. Thus, campus expansion will fulfil the needs of the college, he said.

Admission forms on sale: Forms seeking admission to degree-level BCA vocational course at B D College went on sale on the college campus from Tuesday. Admission to the course would be made purely on merit. The session for BCA Part 1 course would begin from July this year, said its coordinator U K Singh. PG teaching: A high-level team of the university officials would inspect RSLY College, Bakhtiyarpur, next week to explore the feasibility of introducing PG teaching in chemistry, philosophy, economics, Hindi and commerce, said college principal P K Verma, adding the college, which is one of the oldest constituent ones of the university, has the required infrastructure for the purpose.

Commerce stream: B S College, Danapur, has been given permission by the university to start commerce stream at the degree level from the current academic session 2012-2013. Besides, the college, which has got permission to start MBA and MCA vocational courses would start sale of admission forms for these courses from this month, said college principal Pravin Kumar.Evaluation work: Evaluation work of intermediate examinations is still going on at the A N College and T P S College centres, while the work at B D College concluded on May 15.Degree examination: Degree Part II Honours examination is being held peacefully at most of the Patna-based constituent colleges of the university these days. The university would conduct Degree Part 1 Honours examination soon, an MU official said. [TOI]

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Times Group to fight it out with Anandabazar Patrika in Bengal

It may well be the clash of the titans in West Bengal's media industry. The country's largest media conglomerate, Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), also known as the Times group, is set to battle it out in the regional media space with Aveek Sarkar's family-owned Anandabazar Patrika (ABP). According to sources close to the development, the Times group is planning to launch a Bengali newspaper by the end of this year. Rahul Kansal, chief marketing officer of BCCL, said, "We are keeping our possibilities open, nothing has been finalised yet. I do believe that West Bengal is a matured market for the newspaper industry. We are looking for portfolio expansion across the country."

While The Times of India is the largest broadsheet daily in the country, Anandabazar Patrika is the largest Bengali newspaper. According to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulation figures, Anandabazar Patrika has a circulation of nearly 1,250,000, while its nearest competitor, Bartaman, has a circulation of 534,000 copies. Other major competitors in the vernacular space are Aajkaal, Sangbad Pratidin, Ganashakti, Sakalbela, Ekdin and NEWZ Bangla.

The plan to launch a Bengali daily is considered to be a move by the Times Group to position itself against ABP in the vernacular space. "In Bengali, we have two magazines, Samay and Udita, but these are part of our response team. It is true the group is planning to launch a newspaper, possibly by the end of the year. However, the name is not yet fixed," said a top BCCL official. The Times Group has a strong presence in regional markets, with dailies like Navbharat Times and Sandhya Times (evening tabloid) in Hindi, Maharashtra Times in Marathi and Vijaya Karnataka in Kannada. There were speculations that the Bengali newspaper would be named Samay and launched by August 15, but BCCL officials denied this. Sources confirmed that the hiring process had been initiated, though the group had not finalised on who would be the editor. Anandabazar Patrika, founded in 1922 by Prafulla Chandra Sarkar, is the largest read Bengali newspaper, with a readership of more than six million, according to Indian Readership Survey reports.(afaqs)

12 min per hour ad rule angers broadcasters

NEW DELHI: The telecom regulator's decision to limit advertisements to 12 minutes per clock hour besides introducing restrictions on the number of breaks and ban on part-screen or drop down advertisements during sports events has met with strong criticism from the broadcast industry.The new guidelines introduced as part of the "standards of quality of service regulations'' is likely to hit broadcasters' revenue model and comes at a time when the industry is already under severe financial strain. 

Most news channels are running ino losses or operating on wafer-thin margins as they have to make huge investments in preparing news programmes and then bearing the entire cost of uplinking the content to the satellite from where it is downloaded by the multi-service operators. However, this has been ignored by Trai who has asked TV channels not to show advertisements for more than 12 minutes in an hour and directed that any shortfall of advertisement duration in any clock hour cannot be carried over. 

The regulator has ignored concerns raised by broadcasters that a universal measurement based on clock hour basis would not be logical as viewership patterns differed throughout the day.Trai has also specified in its statement that the minimum time gap between any two consecutive advertisement breaks should not be less than 15 minutes while in case of movies, this time gap should be a minimum of 30 minutes. 

With Rs 25 cr, Jaya breaks record for one day ad spend

While today marks one year of J Jayalalithaa being in power as the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, it also marks another landmark: The largest spend by a brand/company/organisation in one day in the country, with initial estimates suggesting a spend of a whopping Rs 25 crore.The campaign, released on behalf of the Government of Tamil Nadu by the DIPR, has been splashed across the country, in multiple languages. All editions of the Times of India, barring the Kochi edition, have carried 6 pages (this has been checked online). The Mumbai editions of Hindustan Times, Economic Times, Asian Age, Indian Express, Financial Express, Hindu Business Line, Mint and Business Standard too have carried the ads, and one may presume that other editions of these titles carry the campaigns as well. 

Even newspapers with no edition in Chennai and Mumbai and New Delhi have carried the ads. For example, The Statesman, Kolkata, is a beneficiary of the TN government’s largesse (the paper does have a minimal presence in New Delhi, though). The Telegraph, too, has a few pages.Brands have attempted to dominate – in advertising parlance ‘roadblock’ – ever since Real Value (the company which launched Ceasefire) launched their second product, the Vaccumiser, with a road-block across the channels on the STAR Network in 1994. Since then, BPL Mobile attempted the exercise, buying all the space in Times of India, Mumbai, when they launched. The next big roadblock was in 2007, when Vodafone was born, when an estimated Rs 10 crore was spent on media in a day, across numerous TV channels. Vodafone used the roadblock again when they launched multiple new ZooZoo ads on TV on the same day. Volkswagen, when they launched in India, used a print roadblock in major metros.

But none of these compares with Jayalalithaa’s super roadblock. During the course of the day, we will update you with more accurate estimates of the spend. What is certainly clear though, is that the Jayalalithaa campaign has created history by becoming the largest one day advertising spend ever. 

Rajasthan's Health Minister says Aamir Khan is working for money, not issues

Rajkumar Sharma, Rajasthan's Minister for Health, has criticised Aamir Khan's TV show Satyamev Jayate. The minister has accused the actor of "sensationalising female foeticide cases" in the state. While one cannot deny that the government has swung into action after the first episode of SMJ, Sharma says, "There was an impression that the government took action only after Aamir's campaign, but I would like to highlight that we've already been working for the same. Budget announcements to check foeticide are there and several other steps are being taken. The government took up the issue much before Aamir Khan's programme."

He further says that Satyamev Jayate is not a campaign for social awareness. "Aamir himself has said that he is an entertainer and cannot work longer on one topic, that simply means what he is doing is for monetary gains. If he really wants to work on this issue, then I welcome him to come and work here on ground." [TOI]

General Motors to stop their Facebook advertising

DETROIT/SAN FRANCISCO: General Motors Co said that it will stop advertising on Facebook, even as the social networking website prepares to go public, with a source familiar with the matter saying the automaker had decided Facebook's ads had little impact on consumers.The decision by GM, the third-largest advertiser in the United States, marks the first highly visible crack in Facebook's strategy and underscores doubts about whether advertising on Facebook works better than traditional media.

"This does highlight what we are arguing is the riskiness of the overall Facebook business model," said Brian Wieser, Internet and media analyst at Pivotal Research Group. "It is not a sure thing. It sure looks likely that it will be one of the most important ad-supported media properties, but it's not certain because there will be marketers who are challenged to prove the effectiveness of the marketing vehicle." For now, these worries do not appear to be impeding strong investor demand, with Facebook Inc increasing the size of its offering by 25 percent to raise about $15 billion, a separate source told Reuters on Tuesday.

Facebook, founded eight years ago by Mark Zuckerberg in a Harvard dorm room, is expected to start trading on the Nasdaq on Friday. GM said it will still have Facebook pages, which cost nothing to create and for which it pays no fees, to market its vehicles and added that it is not unusual for it to move spending around various media outlets."In terms of Facebook specifically, while we currently do not plan to continue with advertising, we remain committed to an aggressive content strategy through all of our products and brands, as it continues to be a very effective tool for engaging with our customers," GM said.

Facebook declined to comment on GM's move. Some in favour Concerns about advertising on Facebook are not confined to GM, with an executive at another large consumer products company saying it was hard to know if it is worth the money spent."Is it just a shiny new object, or is it a real value proposition?" said the executive, who asked not to be identified.But Ford Motor Co said it was committed to advertising on Facebook and is boosting its spending, including ad buys.

"You just can't buy your way into Facebook," said Ford spokesman Scott Monty. "You need to have a credible presence and be doing innovative things."More than 20 percent of Ford's marketing budget is spent on digital and social media, he said. The company launched its 2011 Explorer SUV on Facebook and other digital outlets for a fraction of the cost of a Super Bowl TV spot, which cost $3.5 million on average per 30 seconds this year.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TRAI sets 12-minute cap per hour on TV ads

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Monday issued the Standards of Quality of Service (Duration of Advertisements in Television Channels) Regulations 2012. Among other conditions, the regulations limit the duration of ads on TV channels to 12 minutes per hour. Also, the minimum time gap between two consecutive advertisement breaks should not be less than 15 minutes.

The salient features of the regulations are: The duration of advertisements on TV channels to be limited to 12 minutes per clock hour. Any shortfall of advertisement duration in any clock hour not to be carried over.The advertisements during live broadcast of a sporting event to be aired only during the breaks in the sporting action.The minimum time gap between two consecutive advertisement breaks should not be less than 15 minutes; in case of movies, this time gap should be a minimum of 30 minutes.  However, this condition not to apply in case of live broadcast of a sporting event.The advertisements to be only full screen. Part-screen and dropdown advertisements not to be permitted.The audio level of the advertisements carried on TV channels not to be higher than the audio level of the programmes being broadcast on the channel. Details of the regulations are available on the TRAI website

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fate of Nityanand to be decided tomorrow by Tamil Nadu government ?

Madurai: Fate of Nityanand to be decided tomorrow by Tamil Nadu government as 9 Mutth head had written letter to state government requesting action against his crowing as mathadheesh. the controversy over appointment of self-styled godman Nityananda as head of the Madurai Adheenam, the Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a PIL seeking a direction to the government to take over the ancient Saivite Mutt.The Madurai Bench of the Court also dismissed a habeas corpus petition filed by a disciple of the Dharmapura Adheenam seeking to produce the pontiff of Madurai Adheenam, Arunagirinatha Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swami, in person.

Dismissing the pleas, the Bench comprising Justices M Sathya Narayanan and D Hariparanthanam said the petitioners should approach the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment department under provisions of the HR and CE act and the High Court was not competent to handle the issue at this stage. The Court said as the matter involved appointment of Nityananda as the successor, it was a matter to be decided by the HR and CE (Joint Commissioner) court or civil court.

Meanwhile, counsel for M Solaikannan, Hindu People's Party leader who filed the PIL, sought a special leave petition for appealing against the Court order to the Supreme Court. The counsel also said he would file a civil suit. In his petition, Solaikannan alleged that the recent appointment of Nityananda, who is facing criminal charges, including rape, as the 293rd pontiff of Madurai Aadheenam (Mutt), was made without following rules and rituals established by tradition.

The appointment had not been ratified by other Saivite mutts. The present mutt head had been administered some drug and he had agreed to make Nityananda as the Mutt head only under the influence of drugs, the petitioner alleged.The Habeas Corpus Petition filed by one T Gurusamy Desikar, sought a direction to police to produce the mutt head Arunagirinatha Gnanasambanda Desika Paramacharya Swami, in person and set him free from 'illegal custody' of Nityananda.

Yahoo shareholder wants Yahoo media boss as temp CEO after Scott Thompson controversy

Yahoo Inc's largest outside shareholder said the Internet company should make its finance chief or head of media the interim chief executive because of the controversy surrounding CEO Scott Thompson's educational background.Third Point, an activist hedge fund waging a bitter proxy battle against Yahoo's board and which exposed inaccuracies in Thompson's official biography last week, repeated its demand on Wednesday that Yahoo fire Thompson and install four of its hand-picked director candidates to the board.

Yahoo's board appointed a special committee to investigate Thompson's background on Tuesday and review the "facts and circumstances" surrounding the hiring of Thompson.Yahoo acknowledged last week that Thompson, the former president of eBay division PayPal, does not have a computer science degree despite what was stated in his official company biography and in regulatory filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Ebay Inc CEO John Donahoe came to Thompson's support on Wednesday, telling reporters at an event in Tokyo that he hoped Thompson would "get through this," and that he was "Scott's biggest fan," according to a report in Bloomberg News.Donahoe said that eBay's regulatory filings when the company hired Thompson were accurate.

The controversy has engulfed Yahoo in turmoil, raising questions about the future of Yahoo's fourth CEO in five years and the latest plan to revive the company's flagging revenue growth.In its first-quarter 10-Q filing with the SEC on Wednesday, Yahoo acknowledged that "uncertainties" about Thompson and questions about the company's "future direction" could hurt business opportunities and make it difficult to attract employees and business partners.

Network18 Media posts net loss of Rs 168.24 crore in Q4

The group had a net loss of Rs. 168.24 crore in the fourth quarter compared with a loss of Rs. 44.13 crore in the same period the previous year

Mumbai: Network 18 Media and Investments Ltd’s net loss widened almost four-fold in the three months ended 31 March from a year earlier against the backdrop of slowing economic growth, which is taking its toll on the media industry’s advertising revenue. The group had a net loss of Rs. 168.24 crore in the fourth quarter compared with a loss of Rs. 44.13 crore in the same period the previous year, it said on Wednesday. Consolidated revenue rose 63% from a year ago to Rs. 659.5 crore. For the full year to 31 March, the net loss was Rs. 388.5 crore, compared with a loss of Rs. 36.68 crore in the previous year. Revenue rose 31.5% to Rs. 1,952 crore.

Its news and entertainment television business posted a 16% increase in revenue to Rs. 348.7 crore in the quarter. Digital content and e-commerce business revenue grew 37% to Rs. 67.1 crore. “FY12 was a truly transformational year for Network 18,” said managing director Raghav Bahl in a statement. “We announced the proposed strategic stake acquisition in ETV Network and a plan to induct significant equity in the group. These plans when consummated (subject to regulatory approvals) will catapult us into the forefront of the Indian media industry with a debt-free balance sheet and a fully built-out television and digital footprint.”

In January, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) announced an investment in the Network 18 Group. RIL, through a newly created vehicle called Independent Media Trust, is infusing funds in the form of loans (or optionally convertible debentures) into Network 18 Media and Investments, the group’s holding company, and TV18 Broadcast Ltd, the flagship firm.

Network 18 and RIL announced two rights issues of up to Rs. 2,700 crore each. Since Network 18 Media is the promoter and a majority shareholder in TV18, it will subscribe to around Rs. 1,400 crore worth of shares in TV18’s rights issues. Consequently, the net rights issues of both the companies will amount to a fund raising of Rs. 4,000 crore. RIL will provide funds to promoters to pick up their tabs in the two issues and of the other shareholders as well in case they decide to stay away from the fund raising. RIL is also divesting a majority of its stake in Eenadu Group’s various broadcast channels to the Network18 Group.

“We expect near- to medium-term softness on the advertising front but are confident of delivering a strong operating performance,” said Network 18 group chief executive B. Sai Kumar. Network 18’s stock on Wednesday closed at Rs. 36.20 on BSE, down 1.23%, while the Sensex fell 0.40% to 16,479.58. TV18 Broadcast, a subsidiary of Network 18, posted a net loss of Rs. 8.26 crore in the quarter, compared with a net loss of Rs. 11.37 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. Revenue rose to Rs. 192 crore from Rs. 68.8 crore. For the full year, the company posted a net profit of Rs. 9.24 crore against a net loss of Rs. 49.24 crore in the previous fiscal. Full-year revenue rose to Rs. 626.10 crore from Rs. 244.41 crore.

TV18’s stock closed at Rs. 25.40, up nearly 1%. “I’m concerned with regards the group’s lack of fiscal discipline and corporate governance standards,” said Nikhil Vora, managing director of IDFC Securities Ltd. ”Operationally too, I believe that they will be challenged to change track.”