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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Star India to invest in anti-piracy technology and cricket based services

Mumbai: STAR India, the exclusive media rights holder for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)’s international and domestic cricket matches, is planning to invest Rs 100 crore in the first year to enhance the consumer experience, mainly beyond television.STAR, the Rupert Murdoch-led News Corp’s Indian subsidiary that has acquired all media rights of BCCI for six years from April this year, is also planning to tighten the noose on the piracy of content that is rampant on mobile and internet.

“There is lot of piracy beyond television as far as sports is concerned. The rights are not being honoured and the sad part is that big mobile companies are making money and rights holders are not getting anything. We at STAR India believe this blatant misuse of rights should be punished and we will crackdown heavily on such piracy,” Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer of STAR India, told Business Standard.

Gupta added mobile companies often use low-quality content from content aggregators and offer them to consumers. “We will invest Rs 100 crore in the first year for shaping up the system, manpower, technology, analytic, etc to offer much better user experience on mobile via value-added services (VAS),” Gupta claimed.

Asked about the return on investment, he said it was not significant right now, but in three to five years, it would be a significant revenue stream. “Today, there may not be a huge revenue leakage, but what is worst is that we are not shaping the future and this piracy will kill any prospect of making mobile VAS as a potential revenue stream,” Gupta said.At present, an average consumer spends 20 hours per week on television, while just 10 minutes on consuming content on mobile devices and it is here that STAR India is looking enough value to unlock.

STAR India had also published a public notice in the country’s leading dailies on Friday, announcing that it is the exclusive owner of the BCCI rights and that no entity, without its prior permission, should engage in mobile any activity that infringe or interfere with it rights. It had also said STAR India is authorised to take legal action against such entities.Gupta added: “It’s time that people should recognise and respect that we hold the rights. We are going to educate them, engage them. It is going to take lot of efforts and time, and STAR is fully geared up for it.”

Competition Commision of India approves Birla group's 27.5% stake in Living Media

New Delhi (PTI) : Competition Commission of India (CCI) today said it has approved Aditya Birla group's purchase of 27.5% stake in Living Media India Ltd, the holding firm of media giant India Today Group.The stake is being purchased through IGH Holdings Private Ltd, an investment company of industrialist Kumar Mangalam Birla-led business conglomerate. The two groups had announced this transaction earlier in May this year.In its order, dated August 14 and made public today, CCI observed that both Aditya Birla group and India Today Group are engaged in the retail business, but the transaction "is not likely to have an appreciable adverse effect on competition in India", and therefore it has approved the deal.

The CCI said it received an application for its approval to the deal on June 18, after which it had sought certain information and documents from IGH Holdings.The proposed transaction involves an initial acquisition of 24.9% stake in Living Media India by IGH and an additional purchase of 2.6% stake, resulting into a total purchase of 27.5% equity.The companies said in their applications to CCI that the said purchase of shares of Living Media by IGH may go up to a maximum of 49%, and the proposed acquisitions and valuation adjustments should be completed within six months from the end of the financial year 2015-16.

As per the CCI order, the companies had further said that the initial purchase of 24.9% stake and the subsequent acquisitions, including the purchases due to valuation adjustments, are inter-related and inter-dependent and the CCI approval has been sought for the proposed acquisition of equity shareholding of up to 49% of Living Media by IGH Holdings.As per the details provided by the companies to CCI, there are certain conditions precedent in the share subscription and purchase agreement (SSPA) which related to certain transfer to and from Living Media, pursuant to which some businesses of Living Media, including Thomson Press (India), its subsidiaries and some other businesses would be hived off.

After such transfers, the subsidiaries and associate firms of Livin Media would include TV Today Network, ITAS Media, Today Retail Network, Today Merchandise, Harper Collins, Mail Today Newspapers, India Today Online, Universal Learn Today, Integrated Databases India and Automotive Exchange Pvt Ltd. After the transaction, IGH would have certain statutory rights in Living Media, along with the contractual rights of the shareholders agreement.

Press Council of India seeks to bring electronic, social media under its ambit

NEW DELHI: Print media watchdog the Press Council of India (PCI) wants to increase its powers to include electronic and social media. Claiming that self-regulation was an "oxymoron", the PCI said in a statement on Tuesday said that it had resolved to approach the government for amendments in the Press Council Act. However, at least three PCI members said that while the controversial issue was discussed no resolution had been passed. The PCI's move to curb social media comes days after government's aggressive drive to block twitter accounts and restrictions on the number of SMSes.

The Council has argued that "unregulated" electronic media had played "havoc" with the lives of people referring to recent incidents where social networking sites were used to spread rumours that triggered exodus of people belonging to northeastern states. Justifying its demand PCI headed by former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju said that there should not be "any dilly-dallying in the matter by the government.Katju had written to I&B minister Ambika Soni and PM Manmohan Singh to bring TV channels in the Council's ambit.

PCI member Malayalam Monarama and The Week resident editor K S S Murthy expressed surprise at the announcement of a resolution. "My recollection of the proceedings of the Press Council meeting yesterday is that we had discussed the issue of amendments to the Press Council Act. It was the general consensus that the question of amendments — including give more powers to the Council and bringing electronic and social media under the Media Council — would be discussed at the next meeting of the Press Council," he said.

Another member TOI spoke to said that no resolution was passed though there was a discussion and there was general unanimity on the issue. Nineteen out of 27 members were present, including Congress minister Rajiv Shukla, BJP MP Harin Pathak, besides representatives from newspapers.PCI said that it had resolved that the government be asked to initiate suitable legislation to amend the Press Council Act to bring the electronic media (both broadcast and social media) within the purview of the Act and renaming it as the 'Media Council.'

PCI said that experience had shown that "the claim of the broadcast media for self-regulation is futile and meaningless, because self-regulation is an oxymoron. All social activity has to be regulated." The statement added that PCI was in favour of only regulation and not control, and that this regulation should be by an independent statutory authority like the Press Council of India and not the government.

Justice Katju blames electronic media for North East exodus

BANGALORE: Chairman of the Press Council of India Justice Markandey Katju recently decried the irresponsible behaviour of the electronic media while covering the exodus of people from the northeast.The media, without going into details and the truth, chose to air the controversial SMSs and spread fear. "The way the issue was handled, it sent a wrong message and forced people to run for their lives," said Justice Katju. 

Independence of the press and bringing electronic media under the umbrella of the Press Council of India were highlights of the seminar on 'Media and Responsibilities'. The seminar, organized by the All India Small and Medium Newspapers Federation, also provided a platform to discuss the role of the media in handling issues like the recent exodus.

On the reluctance of the electronic media to be included in the Press Council of India, Justice Katju said this reflects the irresponsible and money-minded attitude of certain sections of the media. "The ethics of journalism should be followed by both print and electronic media. The reluctance of the electronic media only proves they are concerned only about TRPs and money. It's high time media looked into grave issues and developed a scientific way of thinking," he said.

"Satyamev Jayate should be the motto of the press, but it's very sad we are missing the point. The whole world is watching India and thus it becomes the responsibility of the press to behave in a responsible manner," said governor HR Bhardwaj. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hindi, English press concur on need for restraint

The Hindi print media’s chronicling and commentary on the obvious tensions in the rights-regulation equations of the information society, augurs well for the vibrancy of contemporary discourse in the Hindi press, says ANAND VARDHAN. Source: -TheHoot.

Is there a language colour when it comes to popular perceptions about the custodians of liberal space, and more particularly, about issues concerning social media freedom? Seeking a categorical reply to this is fraught with the risk of generalisation. But, as a question of perception (not necessarily of fact), there is little doubt that mainstream English press is viewed as the ‘natural’ flagbearer of liberal right to expression. So how has Hindi press been responding to recent turn of events which again brought to the fore the question of unfettered freedom of social media and the governmental efforts to restrain it?

The question is dovetailed into the state’s stated objectives in doing so - the purposes of national security, communal harmony, clampdown of fake PM accounts on social media and the moral fibre of the society in which social media operates.  But, any question about the approach of the Hindi press to this has to first confront an even more basic question: how alive has  the Hindi print space been in addressing the questions of cyber space?

The perceptions about IT- freedom sensitivity in the Hindi press is not helped by some stereotypes of tech-apathy springing from political narrative in the Hindi speaking belt. For instance, in a case of  dogmatically stretching the Lohiaite ideology too far, the ruling party of the most populous state in the region had an anti-computer policy as recently as early 2012.  Interestingly, a party ideologue justified the discarding of the policy by asserting that Lohia was not against small machines like computer! And has it been easy to erase from popular imagination ‘Ye IT- YT kya hai?’ (What’s this IT-YT? ) remark made by  former Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav during his time in power. May be not.

But, holding Hindi media’s engagement with issues of cyber space captive to such stereotypes cannot give you an idea of the vigour with which a section of Hindi press has reported and commented on the current concerns regarding social media freedom and government’s attempt to muzzle a part of it.

For starters, the reports and the front page display of the story in major Hindi dailies can’t escape attention. Tracking the story from a general blocking of sites having inflammatory content (of Pakistani origin, and seen as proxy ‘cyber war’) to the crackdown on objectionable material on social media and the response of the social media sites, the Hindi dailies have been following and displaying the story on the front page. Dhai Sau Websiton Par Rok (250 websites blocked) reported Jansatta (21.08.2012) , while Dainik Jagran chronicled  government’s face-off with Twitter on blocking-compliance. It carried reports with idiomatic headlines Twitter Par Sarkar Ki Nazar Tedhi (22.08.2012) Government tries  browbeating Twitter and Twitter Ne Sarkaar Ko Dikhaya Thenga (24.08.2012), Twitter defies government. The blurb for the same story reads Ultimatum ke bawjood 28 webpage on ko nahi kiya pratibandhit ( Despite untimatum, 28 webpages not blocked).

 The paper continues to track the story on its front page on 25 th August  as its headline read  PMO ke naam wale farji twitter accounts block ( Fake twitter accounts carrying PMO name blocked) while the blurb ran Assam hinsa sambandhi web page band karne par asamnjas ( Dilema over blocking Assam violence related webpages). Dainik Bhashkar and Hindustan have also been consistent in reporting the story on the front page.

The government’s proposed legislative  response to address the perceived ‘excesses’ of social media found its way in Dainik Bhaskar’s headline Social sites par lagaam ke liye aayega kanoon (23.08.2012), Law to  be framed to restrain social (networking) sites. The strapline for the story says Bharkau samagri par dandatmak karyavai ka hoga pravdhan, Vicharon ki abhivyakti ke samarthak nahi honge kanoon se prabhavit ( Penal provisions will be for inflammatory content, supporters of free expression of thoughts not to be affected by the law). Hindustan carried a report (24.082012) on how government has directed various departments and officials to be cautious while sharing information on social networking sites, Adhikari satark hokar karein sites ka istemaal ( Officers have to be alert while using sites).

 Apart from the coverage and its display, what is interesting is how the story has engaged the editorial commentary and opinion pieces in the Hindi press. In its analytical and prescriptive thrust , the discourse in the reams of Hindi papers has shared common grounds with the commentary in the English press ( though neither of the two is a monolithic entity). In the days since the story surfaced, The Indian Express ( ‘Net Caution’, 21.08.2012) and The Hindu ( ‘Tweets and Twits’, 25.08.2012) have chosen to editorially comment on the unfolding layers of regulation -cyber freedom skirmishes. So have Hindustan (‘Afwahon ke Shikaar’ , Victim of rumours, 21.08.2012) and Dainik Bhashkar ( Afwaah Se Aatank, Terror through Rumours, 21.08.2012). The running thread in these edits is the emphasis on the need to blend freedom with reasonable restraints in sensitive times. In both English and Hindi editorial space what has swung the vote in favour of governmental crackdown is that the issue has not been cast on the lines of free speech versus regulation or dissent versus the state but has been addressed as a question of national security , involving the physical safety  of millions. Absolute advocates of right to expression might not find solace in these edits.

The opinion pieces in Dainik Bhashkar– Kis tarah ka morcha bana raha social media (What kind of front is social media building?) by Naresh Goswami ( 23. 08.2012) and Americi Paath Banaam Internet Ki Azaadi ( American Lesson versus Internet Freedom, 24.08.2012) by Piyush Pandey turn a critical lense on  the national as well as international milieu which is guiding the social media milieu. In their reflections they share lot of ground with Shashi Tharoor’s piece in The Hindu ( ‘Living in the reality of virtual threats’, 23.08.2012).In this context, another instance of  convergence of perspectives is interesting to note . Piyush Pandey’s piece also shares it prescription for government with The Hindu’s edit- counter the hate on social media through the  same platform. And it seems that government isn’t thinking differently either, as Business Standard ( 25.08.2012) ‘ reported: ‘Govt, too,plans to use social media’.

But talking of perceptions and given the ideological tilt of some of the largest selling Hindi dailies like Dainik  Jagran, is there a whiff of ‘conspiracy of silence’ on the question of identifying some  extremist  groups  involved in the hate campaign on social media?  The question becomes relevant in the light of a report published in The Times of India (23.08.2012) carrying the headline ‘ 20% of banned hate pages put up by Hindu groups’ . The report  goes on to quote intelligence agencies to say  that  apart from web content, some of the SMSs that spread panic leading to exodus of NE people were generated by fringe Hindu groups. Readers have missed this aspect in the reports published in Dainik Jagran and Dainik Bhashkar. And interestingly, one of the most prolific commentators on social media in the Hindi print space, Piyush Pandey hasn’t addressed this oversight too in his pieces for Dainik Jagran ( Internet ki Takaat Ka Durupyog, Misuse of the power of internet,19.08.2012 and Farzi Khaton Ka Garbarjhala, The Messy Cobwebs of Fake Accounts,26.08.2012) and in his piece for Dainik Bhashkar,  Americi Paath Banaam Internet Ki Azaadi ( American Lesson versus Internet Freedom, 24.08.2012). But how much should be read into such ‘perceived’ omissions? If deliberate, this could be a case of  a worrisome bias in reporting and commentary. However, warts and all, the Hindi press has taken some reassuring steps in taking account of the issues concerning social media.

In the changing landscape of an information society, the Hindi print space is trying to engage and make sense of the defining contours of social media. Its chronicling and commentary on the obvious tensions in the rights-regulation equations of the information society augurs well for the vibrancy of contemporary discourse in the Hindi press.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

NBA asks MIB to order third party audit of TAM’s systems

Even as NDTV and WPP have taken the battle over the ratings lawsuit that the news broadcaster had filed against TAM Media Research and its parents Nielsen, Kantar and companies such as WPP, amongst others, to another level at the moment, the News Broadcasters Association has also put forth a few requests to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) listing out five points that it believes can be taken in “resolving this malaise with the intention to protect the industry and all its stakeholders’ interest”.

In a letter dated August 10, 2012 to the MIB and Minister Ambika Soni, NBA’s first suggestion is for MIB to order an independent third party time bound audit by a reputed agency to evaluate and measure the TAM systems and make the audit report public.It may be recalled that TAM has made a similar audit suggestion to the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) and to the Indian Society of Advertisers (ISA) in the meeting that the AAAI and ISA had held on August 16, 2012.

NBA’s second suggestion is for the MIB to take efficient steps to correct deficiencies in the ratings system in India. The NBA letter indicates that comments on the widespread corruption amongst broadcasters, following the NDTV lawsuit against TAM and other related companies, are misplaced. However, the NDTV lawsuit has clearly quoted various instances where it has seen broadcasters participate in corrupt practices to influence the ratings mechanism.

The association has quoted to the Ministry the ‘Code of Practice in relation to Measurement Based Studies’ that it says its member broadcasters adhere to. “This Code was formulated and approved so that the use of measurement based studies by member broadcasters is carried out in line with highest ethical commercial practices,” the NBA letter said to MIB.NBA has also suggested to the MIB to help build a robust, transparent and dependable rating system. This point appears to be on MIB’s agenda too as can be seen in the support that the Ministry has shown for the industry to finally kick off the much needed BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) in India.

NBA has also requested MIB to direct TAM to suspend reporting data until the above mentioned suggestions are undertaken. NBA has requested TAM Media Research in the past as well to change its data publishing frequency from a weekly to a monthly cycle but other industry stakeholders – advertisers and agencies – were not in favour of the decision stating that the move was regressive and would take the ratings mechanism in India a few steps backwards.

NBA’s final request to MIB is to continue to engage and work together on this issue and give the industry and all its stakeholders i.e. broadcasters, advertisers, distribution companies, etc.., the confidence to be able to consume data derived from such system.“We believe these measures and initiatives from the Government will go a long way in addressing this long pending concern and we offer you our complete support in this journey,” said the NBA letter.While NBA’s letter suggests to MIB that data from TAM Media Research is affecting broadcasters and their business adversely, the second point of view on the matter is whether the industry would function efficiently without a measurement metric in India. By now, most know there is more that would be discussed on the subject.

Censor Board can’t dictate 11pm slot: Tribunal

After The Dirty Picture's TV broadcast debacle, Appellate Tribunal grants Mahesh Bhatt right to telecast Jannat 2 at time decided by broadcasters. After The Dirty Picture was relegated to the adult slot on television despite cuts, Jannat 2 met a similar fate. However, producers Mahesh and Mukesh Bhatt moved the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) to appeal the decision by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Now, the Tribunal has declared that the CBFC cannot decide the slotting of films to be aired on national television.

Mahesh Bhatt says they had removed the objectionable content from their film for its TV telecast, but the CBFC maintained that the film wasn't fit for prime-time public consumption. CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur confirmed the development."We were told that we would be given a U/A certificate for TV viewing only if we signed an undertaking that we would ensure the broadcasters of Jannat 2 showed it post 11pm. We refused," Mahesh Bhatt said. Then there is also the question of hitting revenue earnings. The Dirty Picture and Jannat 2 were reportedlysold to broadcasters for nearly 10-12 crore each.

"If broadcasters stop getting sufficient returns, why'll they pay big money for satellite rights?" points out an insider. Mahesh adds, "After the precedent set by The Dirty Picture, there were growing fears that films with U/A certificates can be pushed to late night slots. That is exactly what was being done to my film." A source explained the CBFC's stand, saying, "There are some films which even after cuts and certification, retain their adult theme. These movies are not advisable for children. So yes, especially after The Dirty Picture, the CBFC was trying to slot the adult films at a time when at least some children would be asleep, if not all. But now, after the Tribunal judgement, the CBFC has no power to decide time slots."

Meanwhile, in another development, the Bombay High Court has directed that any broadcaster wanting to release a film on satellite will have to deposit 10 lakh as surety in view of pending copyright infringement cases, while hearing a petition filed by writer Kapil Chopra who has sued the Bhatts for copyright infringement.On Tuesday, the court declared that unless the Bhatts resolve their issue with Sharma, their film cannot be shown on TV. "We have deposited 10 lakh with the court. Kapil is bluffing. The next hearing is on September 4. If we want to release Jannat 2 on TV before the verdict is announced, we shall settle the matter with Kapil," Mahesh said.

Shortage of staff in Prasar Bharati affecting its functioning

NEW DELHI(PTI): There are nearly 8,469 vacancies in All India Radio and 5,753 posts vacant in Doordarshan and the shortage of staff was affecting the functioning of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry on Tuesday said. "There are approximately 8,469 posts vacant in All India Radio and 5,753 posts vacant in Doordarshan in various categories. These vacancies have arisen due to retirement, resignation and death of officers/staff," Minister of state in the I&B ministry C M Jatua said. 

"The shortage of staff has affected the functioning of Prasar Bharati," he said in response to a question in Lok Sabha.Jatua also said the proposal for setting up of Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board for recruiting employees and for framing recruitment Registrations Rules in respect of Prasar Bharati employees is under inter-ministerial consultation."Prasar Bharati recruitment can commence as soon as these are approved," Jatua said. In response to another question, Jatua said some associations and channels have expressed reservations over empanelment policy of Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) which was issued in May and the matter was under consideration.


Nielsen frontrunner for new IRS contract from RSCI

In its process to give the industry a gold standard readership measurement metric, RSCI (Readers Studies Council of India) that has for the first time brought together two readership systems of the industry – IRS (Indian Readership Survey) and dormant NRS (National Readership Survey) – had initiated a pitch process for the research partner that would understand and execute the requirement for the new avatar of the IRS.

The pitch was for the term of 2013-2015. While the official word is still awaited, industry sources informed that Nielsen is the frontrunner to bag this project. The other strong contestant is the consortium of Hansa Research Group and Ipsos.No comments were available from RSCI at the time of filing the report.As is known, RSCI had sent out RFPs (Request For Proposals) earlier this year and apart from Nielsen and the Hansa-Ipsos consortium, had received bids also from Kantar Group that comprised IMRB, TNS and Kantar Media, Roy Morgan and GfK.

Industry sources informed that while RSCI has zeroed in on Nielsen already, the final decision would be taken at the MRUC (Media Research Users Council) board meeting to be held on August 28, 2012.RSCI is working with a deadline for the new avatar of the IRS to be in field, with a pilot, by October 2012. A full field is planned for January 2013, with first results to be available by mid-2013. The last report of the IRS, with 2012 fieldwork, will be released in the first quarter of 2013. The intention is to make this the last IRS in its current form.

The agencies were evaluated on the basis of their response to the RFP by the Technical Committee, looking at three factors – comprehensiveness, capability and experience to meet the research requirements, and the extent to which they went beyond the brief. The RSCI also subsequently held chemistry meetings that were conducted by the Selection Committee, who sat through presentations in which agencies fielded their senior staff and global leadership.Nielsen has been in news recently for the controversy in context to the NDTV lawsuit filed in New York State Court against TAM Media Research and its parent companies Nielsen and Kantar.

The new avatar of the IRS is one of the most watched out projects for the Indian print industry, as it would bring the sharp edge of measurement for different kinds of print media vehicles thereby assisting the industry to grow. The RSCI technical committee will be working very closely with the research agency, after it is appointed to ensure that the gold standard product that the RSCI has set out to achieve by this exercise.

TAM data faces questions from radio operators

Mumbai: Television viewership monitor TAM Media Research Pvt. Ltd, which has been slapped with a lawsuit for more than $1 billion in damages by TV network New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) for allegedly fudging data, has also raised the ire of FM radio channels for the way it measures the audience for their programmes.Unhappy with radio audience measurement (RAM) by TAM, at least three FM stations have stopped subscribing to its report in some of the markets where they broadcast, if not all, and a fourth is considering following suit.

Radio One Ltd, a joint venture between Next Mediaworks Ltd and BBC Worldwide; Entertainment Network India Ltd, which operates 32 stations under the Radio Mirchi brand; Music Broadcast Pvt. Ltd that has an FM presence in 20 cities as Radio City, are the three that have already cut off subscription to the TAM report. All three discontinued the service before NDTV sued TAM.

Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd, among the largest radio operators with 45 radio stations under the Big FM brand, is also considering withdrawing subscription to RAM.he radio operators have alleged that TAM is using an inadequate sample size and have questioned the way it compiles the data. “We have requested RAM many times to introduce transparency in its processes and audit systems. We also suggested setting up a panel that includes stakeholders to make the system transparent. But RAM has not taken any measures in this direction,” said Tarun Katial, chief executive of Reliance Broadcast Network.

NDTV has sued TAM Media and its parents The Nielsen Co. and Kantar (the market research arm of London-based advertising and public relations firm WPP Plc) in a New York court, for “manipulating television viewership data in favour of channels that were willing to offer bribes to its officials”, Mint reported on 2 August.NDTV sought “compensatory and punitive damages” for causing financial loss and loss of reputation and brand value through the release of incorrect viewership data, according to the petition. “Given the recent development, we have lost faith in the research and the reliability of the data,” said Prashant Panday, chief executive officer, Radio Mirchi. “When we found certain discrepancies in RAM data for Delhi, we stopped subscribing to the data in that market. We are considering withdrawing subscription in other markets (Mumbai, Kolkata and Bangalore) as well.”

Radio One also found RAM’s data statistically insignificant, because of the low sample size, and discontinued the service.“We did not find satisfactory their explanation for various regular anomalies in their data. Also, the data could never correlate well with programming and marketing effort across stations and competing brands,” said Vineet Singh Hukmani, managing director at Radio One. L.V. Krishnan, chief executive of TAM Media, dismissed criticism on the markets covered. “Of the 15 top radio markets that account for 80% of the total expenditure on advertising, we cover 14. While we offer weekly numbers for the top five markets, the remaining cities throw up data every six months,” he added. Krishnan also refuted allegations that marketing efforts and programming strategies do not reflect in listenership. “If you look at stimuli and listenership, it always matches,” he said.

Most executives want an electronic audience measurement system to be put in place, instead of the so-called diary method that’s currently used. TAM Media Research launched RAM in 2007 under the diary method, in which consumers note the details of their radio listening habits. The Media Research Users Council (MRUC) also offers radio listenership data under the Indian Readership Survey (IRS). MRUC data is based on the “day-after-recall” procedure and has been under fire for showing a constant decline in radio listenership.

Currently, RAM offers weekly ratings and the market shares of radio stations in the five metros—Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai. In addition, it provides data for nine more cities every six months. These cities were added in 2011. Executives at radio stations say that data are not reflective of the actual radio listenership.“We undertake research internally and have observed that radio consumption is growing in some markets. But this has not been reflected in RAM data. Besides, the diary system used by RAM does not work for the Indian market, the methodology needs to undergo change,” said Nisha Narayanan, senior vice-president, projects and programming at RED FM, co-promoted by Hyderabad-based Arjun Rao and Sun TV Network Ltd.

Krishnan of TAM Media said the diary method was still popular in developed markets such as the UK and Australia. “Even some markets in the US employ the diary system,” he said. The electronic system comes at a price. “At the current stage of maturity of the radio industry in India, the cost of measurement versus the return on investment does not justify the minute-by-minute consumption data that the electronic meters offer,” he said. There has been consistent growth in radio audiences and “we may go electronic in 2013 depending on the requirements of the sector”, he said. According to RAM, the average weekly cumulative reach of radio has grown in Delhi and Mumbai. For instance, the weekly reach of radio in Delhi more than doubled from around 6.35 million in 2008 to around 14.85 million in 2012. In Mumbai, radio’s reach grew from around 7.11 million to around 10.47 million over the same period.

Krishnan said since radio’s reach in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai was more or less equal to that of TV’s in these cities, it made for a sound media vehicle for advertisers.Harshad Jain, business head at Fever 104 FM, owned by Mint’s publisher HT Media Ltd, speaks for RAM, which he calls “the only syndicated and focused study on radio”.“RAM’s weekly study gives out time spent, show-wise listenership and so on in detail; it follows the global mechanism, unlike Indian Listenership Track (ILT) that gives out data based on ‘day-after-recall’,” said Jain.The estimated size of the radio industry is around Rs.1,400 crore in annual advertising revenue.

According to a 2012 report on the media and entertainment industry by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and KPMG, the radio industry is estimated to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 16% until the phase-III expansion of FM radio begins in 2013. Growth is expected to accelerate to 22% post-phase-III.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Twitter co-founders launch online publishing website

SAN FRANCISCO: A website launched by Twitter co-founders as a publishing platform for stories, memories and news was open Wednesday to members of the hit one-to-many text messaging service. A preview version of, launched by Biz Stone and Evan Williams, was live with collections such as "This Happened to Me" stories and "When I Was a Kid" pictures. "We're rethinking publishing and building a new platform from scratch," Williams said in a message on the site. "Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there's been less progress toward raising the quality of what's produced." 

"While it's great that you can be a one-person media company, it'd be even better if there were more ways you could work with others." Stone and Williams are building the platform through their Obvious Corporation, an enterprise named for the notion that many great ideas seem "obvious" in retrospect. "We believe publishing, and media much more broadly, is important... It's easy to forget this given how much pointless and destructive media is in the world," Williams said. 

"But there's also more great stuff than ever before -- and we haven't even scratched the surface of what our smart devices and our networks that connect most of the planet might enable." Reading Medium posts was open to anyone with a Twitter account, but posting was initially limited to an invitation-only group that Williams promised would expand rapidly to include those who register.

i9 Media launches magazine for rural India

Keeping in mind the growing importance of rural India for marketers, i9 Media has launched a new magazine, ‘Rural and Marketing’. Praveen K Singh has been roped in as Editor-in-Chief of the magazine. The monthly magazine has a cover price of Rs 80, with a print run of 15,000 copies.‘Rural and Marketing’ will showcase the real concerns of rural areas and give pan-India coverage on the issues concerned in the hinterlands of the country.

Commenting on the magazine’s launch, Praveen K Singh said, “With this magazine we aim to bridge the gap between rural and urban India and bring to light the finer points of the rural bases, which go unnoticed by the mainstream media. It will identify the loose gaps and will fill them with analytical and informed stories, thus, making an efficient flow in terms of a knowledge base on rural India.”

Singh further said that the magazine would create a platform for all the stakeholders of rural marketing to expand their base and get bigger in order to reach each strata of the nation.The magazine is targeted at policy makers, bureaucrats/ technocrats, corporate houses having rural orientation, ministries, government departments and various B-Schools. Commenting on the niche magazine marketing shaping up in India, Singh said, “Nowadays, niche magazines with their defined readership and advertisers are thriving at a much faster rate than general magazines. Niche publications serving deeply interested audiences will continue to flourish.”

Advertisers from various industry verticals such as automobile, FMCG products, IT companies and the public sector have shown interest in the publication. The distribution will be through newsstands and subscriptions. The ad-edit ratio has been kept at 60:40. The magazine will be available in all major cities as well as Tier II and III towns. The magazine also has digital presence in the form of a website, online edition, e-newsletter and e-alerts.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Naresh Chandra Committee on National Security tells Centre to use Media better

The need for the government to improve its use of the media, both print and electronic, to handle national security concerns has clearly been spelt out by the Naresh Chandra Committee on National Security, which has submitted its final report to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The 14-member task force, set up by the government a decade after the Kargil Review Committee to take forward national security reforms, has clearly added a new dimension to handling security challenges through the 'media'.
-The Asianage:
The urgency to focus on media relations gained critical importance after the 26/11 terror attacks. The task force says the ministries of home and defence need to reinvent their strategic communication wings by taking a leaf out of the PMO’s book. It recommends that a 'media-savvy bureaucrat' or a 'senior media professional from the private sector' (as in the PMO), in the rank of additional secretary and reporting directly to the home and defence secretaries and to the ministers directly where required, should head the strategic communication wings in both ministries. It adds that the Press Information Bureau needs a 'complete revamp' involving the attachment of information officers to 'leading and respected media houses' for month-long training modules to bring them 'up to date on the working professionalism and the psychology of the private media'.The National Security Council Secretariat is currently conducting interministerial consultations on the recommendations of the task force.

Media campaign to highlight govt steps Keeping in focus the succour, which the government has provided to 'aam aadmi' in the last eight years, the Centre is all set to launch a media blitzkrieg on Thursday.The effort is also aimed at dispelling the perception of policy paralysis by highlighting the positive impact of reforms on people at large.Revealing this, sources said, the campaign is to be carried out at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office PMO), which will be in six parts in the form of advertisements.

It will cover areas such as electricity, housing, phones, water, mobiles and TVs, they added. One of the promotional campaigns reads: “Nai aarthik neetiyon ne dikhaya kamaal, kamyabi se bharpur dashak bemisal (new economic reforms have shown splendid results, the last decade has been full of results).” Asserting that there exists 'feel good' in the country, the add blitzkrieg is set to highlight that over six crore electricity connections have been added.It will also refer to seven crore new bank accounts opened by common people, besides expanding computerisation and skill development.

This is going to be in tune with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks in his Independence Day speech on Wednesday that the government was ensuring that benefits of reforms reach the people at grass roots level. For long the Manmohan Singh government has been accused of suffering from policy paralysis resulting in slowdown of economy.

Even a few international rating agencies have downgraded India’s economy, which has rung alarm bell. New finance minister P. Chidambram too has recently come out with a long policy statement enumerating various measures to arrest the slide. Therefore, sources said, the government’s campaign will also focus on the aspects relating to overall economy and play a significant role in correcting the perceptionbased allegations of policy paralysis.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BloombergUTV is now Bloomberg TV India

Effective today, English business news channel BloombergUTV will be known as Bloomberg TV India.Sriram Kilambi, President, Bloomberg TV India said, “The objective is to position the channel as an organic extension of Bloomberg, the world's largest financial news network and to establish Bloomberg TV India as distinctly different from competitive alternatives. Whilst all business channels subscribe to the Bloomberg terminal for information, the terminal for us is our raison d’être. Bloomberg TV India is therefore about accurate, incisive, quick and actionable knowledge, straight from the source. Hence, the positioning ‘The original source’.

Research reveals that the viewer is interested to know how a TV channel is fundamentally different from others, rather than the run-of-the-mill differentiators claimed by the genre. The brand promise is the fundamental difference which will reflect in reportage between Bloomberg TV India and other business channels. In a category synonymous with a high degree of sameness, while being consistent with the global Bloomberg image and identity, Bloomberg TV India will differentiate the brand in the Indian context, said an official release.

Vivek Law, Editor, Bloomberg TV India speaking about the re-christening said, “Bloomberg TV India will continue to mirror the highest standards of business journalism which the Bloomberg brand has established globally. We are indeed proud to be a part of the news gathering heritage and will bring to our viewers business news the way the world knows it.”

Bloomberg TV India recently launched a campaign to communicate the new positioning as ‘The original source’ where the creative substantiate the same with a distinct tone and brings it alive with a unique personality. The functional take-away revolves around incisive information, useful knowledge and actionable wisdom. The emotional take-away is intelligence for the intelligent.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Regional cinema doesn't get media attention: Gurvinder

IANS: "Regional films don't get the kind of coverage they deserve. No one wants to write or talk about it. Last year a Tamil film won four or five National Awards. But no one knows about it. Even at the National Awards ceremony this year, the media focussed only on Vidya Balan. They didn't even want to talk to anybody else," Singh told IANS in an interview.

"It is very difficult to get media's interest in your film if you are not a big name or have no stars in your film. They don't bother about it. All they will write and talk about is Bollywood or Hollywood," added the 39-year-old.Set in a Punjab village, 'Anhey Ghorey', based on Jnanpeeth Award winner Gurdial Singh's novel of the same title, portrays the plight and problems of farmers and is made with local villagers. It had its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival.

It is the first Punjabi film to have travelled to 15 international film festivals including the London Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival and Abu Dhabi film fest, where it won a Rs.25 lakh award.Singh's debut film also won National Awards for best direction and best cinematography for Satya Raj Nagpaul and best feature film in Punjabi at the 59th National Film Awards of India.

Made at a budget of Rs.2 crore, it has been funded by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). It was commercially released Friday across Delhi, Mumbai, Jalandhar and Ludhiana Friday by NFDC, in association with PVR Directors Rare."For me, it was not important whether I will get to make another film. I was not worried what kind of reception the movie will get, whether critics will like it or not. I just wanted to make a film which I believed in and to bring on screen my own understanding of cinema and life.

"I believe if you do something honestly and you bring something new to the medium, the film will be remembered for a long time," said Singh.Shot in just 45 days in a village near Bathinda, Punjab, what lends the film a more natural look is the fact that the actors were local villagers."I was clear that known faces don't mean anything to me. I wanted to find people who were close to the characters. Casting known actors or names was never important for me," he said.

"We went around the village with our handycam and filmed them. I asked them if they would like to act. Most of them agreed, but some were shy and refused. The ones who agreed, we started with the script reading sessions with them," he said.Born and brought up in Delhi and a graduate in film direction from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune, Singh remembered how he read Gurdial Singh's novel in 1999-2000 and how it left an impact on him.

"I read the novel when I was a student at FTII and it had left an impact on me - the structure of the story, the characters, how the story was told in just one day. I thought that it has a lot of cinematic possibilities," he said. "I believe it is not what you say but how you say is more important. By making this movie, I felt I could give it a new kind of cinematic rendering. Of course, I related to the issue, the characters... I wanted to give them dignity by making the film." Singh, who likes to stay away from big cities' chaos, is currently based in Pune. He is making another Punjabi film that has Operation Bluestar as the background. 

On visit to India, Pak Hindu families wary of media

-Hindustan Times:
Chandigarh: There were a number of tense, nervous faces in the crowd coming out of the customs and immigration hall, and some of them kept glancing over their shoulders towards the other side of the gates on the Radcliffe Line at the joint Indo-Pak border check post here on Friday. As they emerged from the gates of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) after immigration and customs clearance, some of them, including women and children, got panicky on seeing the media. "We have already had enough problems. We do not want to speak to the media," said a middle-aged man, refusing to reveal his identity and objecting to being photographed.

As per immigration records, 119 persons, all of them Hindus belonging to the Sindh province of Pakistan, crossed the border on Friday on a one-month visa, but only after being detained for hours by Pakistani officials over media reports of an exodus of the minority community from Sindh.

During their India visit, they will be paying obeisance at the Golden Temple and going to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Delhi and Indore before returning to Pakistan. The leader of the jatha, Anup Kumar of Sakhar town of Sindh, was however more forthcoming in his response to mediapersons' queries. As others looked on, Anup said that in all 250 Hindus from Sindh had been granted one-month visas by the Indian government, out of which 119 had crossed over while the remaining would do so on Saturday.

Asked about their reluctance to talk to the media, Anup said the problem was caused by the 30 Pakistani Hindus who had come to India on the Samjhauta Express on Thursday. "They had claimed before certain Indian TV channels that minorities were being harassed in Pakistan. They had also said that they would not be going back to Pakistan and would approach the Indian government for citizenship. Their misguiding statements have caused problems for us. We had arrived at the check post in the morning and were interrogated by Pakistani officials throughout the day before some of us were allowed to cross over," he said.

Anup gave a rather guarded response when asked whether the minorities in Pakistan were being persecuted. "Some people say it. Those staying in rural areas or in other provinces of Pakistan may be facing problems, but we have encountered none. We live in harmony." He made it clear, and so did many others in the group, that they would return home after the expiry of their visas. "Our families, our homes and businesses are all in Pakistan. We will surely return," he said.

The Hindu families which had crossed over on Thursday had claimed before the media that forced conversions were taking place in Pakistan. They had also alleged that young girls from minority communities were often abducted. "Such allegations have caused problems for us in the past. We can only appeal to our brethren not to make such statements in public," said Anup as he boarded a taxi to Amritsar.

Lok Sabha TV posts profit for first time

New Delhi (PTI) : Five years after its inception, the Lok Sabha TV has earned profit for the first time and is likely to end the current fiscal with a huge turnover. While the total expenditure of the LSTV stands at Rs 7 crore a year, the channel earned Rs 7.65 crore in 2011-12. However, in the first quarter of 2012-13, the channel has already earned Rs 4.83 crore. 

The development is expected to make the low-budget channel less dependent on  the Lok Sabha to meet its expenditure. LSTV CEO Rajiv Mishra told reporters on Friday that a proposal has been prepared to restructure the programmes of the channel and improve its quality. There is also a plan to air LSTV in 2-3 regional languages, he added.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Time magazine suspends Fareed Zakaria for plagiarism

-The Hindu
NEW YORK :Noted Indian-American journalist and author Fareed Zakaria has been suspended by his employers CNN and Time magazine after he admitted to plagiarism and apologised for the ethical lapse.Mr Zakaria, was suspended by CNN and Time magazine after he admitted that he had plagiarised portions of an article he wrote on gun control for Time, from the New Yorker magazine.He issued an apology saying he had made a “terrible mistake” and his lifting a paragraph from the article by Harvard University professor of American history Jill Lepore was an “ethical lapse“.

Mr Zakaria, 48, a Yale and Harvard graduate, had written the column on gun control that appeared in the August 20 issue of Time magazine.Time said it was suspending Mr Zakaria’s column for a month, pending review.“Time accepts Fareed’s apology, but what he did violates our own standards for our columnists, which is that their work must not only be factual but original; their views must not only be their own but their words as well,” Ali Zelenko, a spokeswoman for the magazine said.

“As a result, we are suspending Fareed’s column for a month, pending further review,” Time said.CNN, on which Mr Zakaria hosts a weekly foreign affairs show ‘Fareed Zakaria GPS’, said it would suspend the show for an indefinite period pending review.“We have reviewed Fareed Zakaria’s Time column, for which he has apologised. He wrote a shorter blog post on on the same issue which included similar unattributed excerpts. That blog post has been removed and CNN has suspended Fareed Zakaria while this matter is under review,” CNN said.

In a statement Mr Zakaria said, “Media reporters have pointed out that paragraphs in my Time column on gun control, which was also a topic of conversation on this blog, bear close similarities to paragraphs in Jill Lepore’s essay in the April 23rd issue of The New Yorker. They are right. I made a terrible mistake.”

Friday, August 10, 2012

Journalist arrested in UK press corruption probe

LONDON : British police investigating unethical links between police and reporters arrested a journalist and a police officer Tuesday for questioning.Scotland Yard identified them only as a 37-year-old journalist and a 29-year-old Sussex police officer, and said they were taken into custody at their homes in an early morning raid.The arrests are related to suspected payments made to a public official. The two men were released on bail later Tuesday.

So far, police have arrested 43 people in a U.K. probe into press wrongdoing and corruption.The investigation is tied to a parallel probe into Britain’s phone hacking scandal, which has rocked the country’s media and political institutions, and led to criminal charges against suspects such as Rebekah Brooks, the former chief of News Corp.’s British operations.

Amnesty young human rights reporter of the year

Amnesty Young Human Rights Reporter of the Year
winners 2012, with presenter Ellie Crissell
-The Guardian
For the past three years, the Education Centre has been involved in the Young Human Rights Reporter (YHRR) Competition, an annual competition for young people run by Amnesty, in partnership with Guardian Teacher Network and MA Publications, publishers of SecEd, Headteacher Update and Primary Teacher Update.

The competition asks young people aged 7-18 to write a compelling human rights story either from personal experience or their interpretation of a human rights news story. More information about the competition can be found on the Amnesty page, and last year's shortlisted entries can be downloaded from Guardian Teacher Network here.

As part of the prize for the 2012 competition, shortlisted entrants took part in a day at the Guardian and Amnesty offices in London. The lower age groups turned their articles into front pages with us in the Education Centre, before joining the older category winners at the Amnesty headquarters for an awards ceremony where the winners were unveiled.

You can read about how much the competition winners enjoyed the experience in this blog by the teacher of one of the runners up. Emily Drabble, contributing editor for Guardian Teacher Network gives more information about the competition in her blog.A range of resources designed to support teaching human rights has been created by Amnesty, and can be downloaded from Guardian Teacher Network here.

Norway's Schibsted to invest heavily in online media

OSLO: Norway-based media group Schibsted plans to invest heavily in online publishing to stem the profit erosion from the market's shift away from traditional print advertising, it said on Friday.Schibsted, which operates in 27, mainly European countries, said it plans to slash print publishing costs by 500 million crowns ($84.43 million) over the next two years and spend a similar amount in 2012 alone on "targeted investments" in online markets.

"In the last few months the trend of advertising revenues migrating from print to online has strengthened. This will continue," the firm said in a statement.The shift is eating into the firm's bottom line and its second-quarter pre-tax profit fell by 19 percent to 442 million crowns, slightly ahead of expectations for 426 million.In addition to problems with print media in its traditional Scandinavian base, the firm is also struggling in southern Europe, it added."The general economic conditions in Spain are demanding and there are no signs of improvement," it added.

The cost cuts, to be detailed in the third quarter, will primarily affect Norway, Sweden and Spain, while its investment will be aimed at rolling out online classifieds in new markets after successful launches in Italy, Austria and Ireland."The aim is both to invest substantially in digital competence and adjust the cost base," Schibsted added.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp logs losses

New York (AGENCIES): Rupert Murdoch's embattled media giant News Corp posted a net loss of USD 1.51 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, as the firm prepared for a major restructuring.The company's bottom line was hit by a USD 2.85 billion charge apparently related to a plan to split its entertainment division from its struggling publishing business, hit by tabloid phone hacking scandals in Britain.News Corp described the charge as "a write-down of USD 1.5 billion of goodwill and a USD 1.3 billion write-down of the company's indefinite-lived intangibles, principally related to the company's publishing businesses, most significantly the Australian operations."

News Corp also wrote off USD 57 million it said it spent during the quarter on an "ongoing investigation" into the British phone hacking scandal, bringing the total cost for the year to approximately USD 224 million.On Tuesday, police arrested a journalist from Murdoch's top-selling British tabloid The Sun and a policeman for alleged corruption, Scotland Yard and the journalist's employer said.The pair were detained under Operation Elveden, one of three investigations sparked by the phone-hacking scandal that closed the News of the World, The Sun's weekly sister paper, last July.

There has been a string of recent arrests of Sun journalists.Australian-born Murdoch was forced to shut down the 168-year-old News of the World over revelations that its staff had hacked into the voicemail messages of a murdered teenager and dozens of public figures.Scotland Yard has made a total of 43 arrests under Operation Elveden, which is investigating journalists' alleged bribery of public officials, and 24 under Operation Weeting, its probe into phone hacking.

A further nine people have been arrested as a result of an investigation into alleged computer hacking and privacy breaches by journalists.Andy Coulson, former media chief to Prime Minister David Cameron, and former top Murdoch aide Rebekah Brooks are among those who have been formally charged with phone hacking.Brooks previously edited both the News of the World and The Sun while Coulson formerly edited the News of the World.

Delhi HC nod to media guidelines for reporting on children

New Delhi [PTI] : The Delhi High Court today gave its nod to the guidelines for media reporting on children which stipulates various curbs including that the identity of kids be not revealed under any circumstances while covering stories of sexual offences, elopement and drug abuse. A committee, appointed by the court in February this year, had submitted the guidelines before a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw. "Media shall ensure that a child's identity is not revealed in any manner, including but not limited to, disclosure of personal informations, photograph, school or locality and information of the family including their residential or official address," 

the committee said in its guidelines on media coverage of cases like trafficking or organized crime involving children. The committee, comprising Principal Magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB), a member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), representatives of NGO, and a nominee from the Press Council of India, said the media should keep in mind the kids' privacy, dignity, physical and emotional development while covering any news involving them. The guidelines asked the media not to sensationalise stories relating to children and to be "conscious of the pernicious consequences of disclosing or highlighting information in a sensational form and the harm it may cause to children." 

"Media must ensure that due consideration is given to a child's right to privacy and to prevent the child from being exposed to anxiety, distress, trauma, social stigma, risk to life and safety and further suffering in relation to reporting or broadcasting any story on children," according to the proposed guidelines. The bench had earlier asked the committee to frame guidelines for the media after taking a serious view of media reports disclosing the identity of a two-year-old battered child admitted in AIIMS who later died and the minor girl who brought the baby to hospital early this year.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hindi readers are poor cousins

Even the largest-selling newspapers have failed to send their reporters to London to cover the Olympics. The budget-conscious Hindi press is thriving on agency reports, writes 'ANAND VARDHAN' source-thehoot.

It has been almost seven decades since George Orwell famously described modern sporting culture as “war minus shooting”. Generally speaking, modern journalism could be credited or blamed (depending on the sense of proportion shown in coverage) for giving accounts of the sporting battles that are fought within this perpetual but bloodless “war”. To state the obvious, in the mainstream press as well as in niche sports publications, such accounts are sometimes first-hand reports and sometimes copies from agencies. But when the event can’t get bigger and the stage can’t go more global than the Olympics, aren’t the readers of Hindi print space entitled to expect first-hand accounts in their newspapers from their reporters in London? Some of the highest-circulated dailies in the country don’t think so.
The readers of the Hindi press shouldn’t hope to look for something beyond news agency copies as none of the Hindi papers has cared to send a reporter to cover the greatest sporting carnival on earth. And to think that these papers include the ones with the highest-circulation figures in the country: Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, and Hindustan.
Sometimes the turn of events can expose such glaring gaps. So when Vijay Kumar, the Hindi-speaking Army Subedar from Himachal Pradesh (very much a part of Hindi print space), won a silver medal in 25 m rapid fire pistol event, you didn’t have any correspondent from a Hindi daily interviewing him for your morning read. All the major English dailies carried his interview dispatched by their sports correspondents covering the Olympics. The ironical import of this is hard to miss: the Hindi newspapers had to depend on agencies to know about the game and the thoughts and feelings of the silver medallist who couldn’t speak anything but Hindi. English dailies had their presence there even if that meant translating into English every word uttered by Vijay.
But this irony of circumstances isn’t an isolated coincidence. The “outsourcing” of sports reporting is a subtext to the larger paradoxical narrative of small reporting budgets of financially healthy Hindi papers.
One is tempted to contrast this with two strands in the current sports reporting scene in the mainstream English press.
One, along with the presence of all major English dailies in the sporting kumbh in London, at least three English dailies (The Times Of India, The Hindu, and The Indian Express) have also not missed sending their correspondents to Sri Lanka to report on the India-Sri Lanka cricket one-day series. Though Olympics and the fatigue caused by overdose of cricket in recent times have combined to make the series a damp squib, the English press seems to be willing to invest in covering the country’s sporting obsession. Interestingly, the Hindi press is not keen on loosening its purse strings even for milking this cash cow of Indian sports. But its reluctance in investing in reporting is no indication of its “milking” intentions. Milk it does, and it’s no surprise that cricket is the staple diet of the sports pages in the Hindi newspapers (as it is in the English press), relying on agency reports and photographs, and subscriptions to syndicated opinion columns (mostly translated from English).
Two, it’s no revelation but a current reflection of how Hindi newspapers play poor cousins to the English dailies of the same media group. While the Hindustan Times has Saurabh Duggal and The Indian Express has Shivani Naik reporting on Olympics, their sister publications in Hindi, Hindustan and Jansatta respectively, have not sent their reporters to London. And there’s something more intriguing too. Both these Hindi dailies, for reasons best known to them, haven’t used the translated version of their English counterparts’ dispatches from London.
Apart from the Hindi-English divide, the fault lines are also not too blurred on a different divide: the Hindi press-Hindi electronic media divide. You can watch reporters on all major Hindi television news channels ( Aaj Tak, NDTV India, Zee News, IBN 7 and ABP News) chronicling the Olympics from London, while their cousins in the print are confined to their TV sets like you and me.
The economy of sports reporting is a bit different from other reporting beats. And when it comes to reporting from foreign soil, the reporting budget can be really demanding. One of the country’s leading sports journalists, Kunal Pradhan (currently sports editor, Mumbai Mirror and earlier holding the same position with The Indian Express) once observed that foreign assignments (except for foreign-based correspondents) for sports journalists are longer than such assignments for other beats. This is because the sports events to be covered or tracking your country’s touring team are spread over weeks and sometimes over months. That may partly explain why reporting budget-conscious Hindi newspapers develop cold feet when it comes to stepping out of the country to report on sports.
This is not restricted to the newspaper segment of the Hindi press. A case in point is a niche sports publication in the Hindi space, Cricket Samrat, which commands seventh position in the list of ten highest-circulated magazines in the country (according to the latest IRS 2012 Q1 statistics). Despite such strong indicators of its financial health, the magazine is yet to publish any report sent by any of its reporters abroad covering a cricket tournament or the touring Indian side. Try contrasting that with an example from English space. A sports magazine from The Hindu group, Sportstar, has some of its reporters covering events from abroad, although in limited (and mostly India-centric) disciplines.
Despite reaping the financial rewards of what in Robin Jeffrey’s famous phrase could be called “India’s Newspaper Revolution”, the Hindi print medium’s narrative on the sporting events of our times seems largely outsourced. It’s symptomatic of an overstretched cost-benefit model of operations in the Hindi press at the peril of first-hand reportage. This could be one of the disturbing signs of the abandoning of one of the core functions of journalism: providing the first draft of history.

A newspaper that wanted to fly

-Business Standard
Hyderabad: Could the strange twists and turns in the relationship between the Deccan Chronicle and Kishore Biyani-controlled Future Capital be simply coincidental? In December, a news report stated that Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd (DCHL) had bought over promoters’ stake in Future Capital for Rs 700 crore.

While the promoters for DCHL — the Reddys — denied it, it turned out less than eight months later, it was Future Capital that was sitting on a lien on DCHL shares, amounting to over half (54 per cent) of Deccan Chronicle’s net worth, being held as collateral against a Rs 170-crore loan to the newspaper group. In a further complication, the depository participant who was supposed to be holding these DCHL promoter shares and executing the loan-cum-lien agreement, says it holds only around half these shares: A portion has already been released and moved to another depository upon the request of the promoters of DCHL. 

  • Early 2012: DCHL and Aviotech borrow Rs 170 crore from Future Capital. Lien created on 60.4 million shares held by Karvy on promoters’ behalf
  • May 28: Shares are worth roughly Rs 180 crore at a price of Rs 30 each. However, Future wants additional pledge of52 million shares
  • June 1: Promoters tell Karvy that agreement with Future Capital has been terminated. They move part of ‘freed’ shares to Religare enterprises, another depository
  • July 16: Future Capital tells Karvy that they have lien on112.8 million shares. However, Karvy has less than 60.4 million shares in its account
  • July 26: Future Capital tells exchanges that promoters have pledged 54% of their shares
  • July 30: Promoters pledge 14.46% with Religare Finvest
  • July 31: Karvy files police complaint against promoters
  • August 2: Stock dips to Rs 13. At this price shares pledged to Future worth less than Rs 150 crore
  • August 3: Kishore Biyani takes over the loan from Future Capital’s books

How did the Reddys, with their opulent lifestyle and ambitious, high-profile, new ventures in sports and aviation, as well as top political connections, fall from grace?
A number gameT Venkattram Reddy, chairman of Deccan Chronicle Holdings; his brother T Vinayak Ravi Reddy, vice-chairman; and P K Iyer, also vice-chairman and managing director; are the promoter group shareholders and control Deccan Chronicle with identical holdings of 24.61 per cent each. They held a substantial portion of these shares with Karvy Stock Broking, a depository participant based in Hyderabad. Dealings between Karvy, Future Group and the Reddys have now become a matter of police and Sebi investigations.
The Deccan promoters have acknowledged that the company is facing a liquidity crisis, but not a solvency issue, as claimed by some of its lenders. In addition to the sums owed to Future Capital and Religare Finvest, the group is also said to have other liabilities, which it is finding difficult to meet. One of these is the repayment of 11.25 per cent non-convertible debentures with a maturity of 364 days. These debentures, issued largely to the institutions, came up for redemption on June 26. But, Deccan allegedly defaulted, leading to litigation. The promoters of DCHL did not respond to several attempts made by Business Standard to reach them.
In a liquidation petition filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, state-controlled financial institution, IFCI, a debenture holder, has said: “The petitioner understands that, in addition to the Rs 150 crore liability to subscribers of the above-referred NCDs, the respondent has huge debts to various banks, financial institutions, NBFCs, etc, running into thousands of crores of rupees. The petitioner understands that the respondent has defaulted in respect of many liabilities and apprehends many more winding-up petitions may be filed by other creditors.” The petition sought the relief of winding up, “as the respondent company is unable to discharge its debts of its creditors and has almost become insolvent.”
Reddy, in his statement published in a group newspaper, The Asian Age, said the “Deccan Chronicle’s value as a 75-year-old leading newspaper, the value of its fixed assets, comprising land and buildings, as well as plants and machinery at multiple locations, and the value of the Deccan Chargers IPL team, far exceed the company’s debt.”
He also added the debt the company had incurred was through the usual course of business, and the amount stated in a section of the media to be in the thousands of crores was false. The company was actively engaging with its lenders to find a solution to the current liquidity issue, Reddy said.
To be fair to Reddy, there was nothing worrisome in the numbers as late as the March quarter. “You look at the FY11 and FY12 balance sheets, there is hardly anything to suggest the group is in trouble,” says a fund manager. “Till June 15, the promoters repaid everyone. He even managed to secure a significant loan from one of the leading private banks. But, things seemed to have gone downhill since,” he adds.
In fact, according to the documents filed with the registrar of companies, the company has raised loans of Rs 880 crore from banks and financial institutions since the dispute with Future in June, the largest being a Rs 490-crore loan from ICICI Bank on June 18. This was secured by hypothecation of moveable properties and current assets, both present and future, according to the deed. Deccan has also tapped other lenders, such as YES Bank (Rs 50 crore), IDFC (Rs 170 crore), Axis Bank (Rs 100 crore) and Indian Overseas Bank (Rs 70 crore), the data showed.
It is not very clear why a newspaper operation which was generating its own cash required such huge sums of money. There were no new editions being launched, nor any major expansion planned. Some feel the flailing attempts at high-profile, non-core businesses in sports and aviation ran the flagship aground.
Loans taken by DC after June, 2012
(Rs crore)
Jun 18ICICI Bank490.0
Jun 29Axis bank100.0
Jul 2IDFC170.0
Jul 11Yes Bank50.0
Aug 2IOB70.0
Earlier dues
ICICI Bank(for company aircraft)10.0
GE Capital28.5
Canara Bank75.0
ICICI Bank120.0
Future Capital170.0
Grand total1494.5
Source: MCA filings, hypothecation deeds
Flying high
Reddy, known for his fleet of Bentleys, custom-made cigars and flashy parties, was also building a niche aviation business. While DCHL, the listed firm, owns the 75-year-old newspaper business, the IPL team and the bookstore chain, Odyssey, the aviation business are outside its balance sheet and run by a firm called Aviotech, “created with the clear objective of capitalising on vast, untapped niche areas in the rapidly-growing corporate aviation and defence aerospace segments in India”, by providing “seven-star luxury experiences at a fraction of the cost of owning or chartering a private jet,” according to the company website. This was the second attempt at the aviation business, after an earlier one to launch a cargo airline, named Flyington Freighters, got caught in the turbulence of the slowdown.
Sources said both Flyington and Aviotech had placed orders for some 10-12 aircraft each. While the former had placed those with Airbus, Aviotech was said to have placed orders for 10 Sukhoi Superjet 100s with the Russain plane maker. Reports in trade journals suggest both these orders were in the middle of payment disputes. In early 2011, Flyington reportedly cancelled orders for 12 Airbus A 330s, placed in 2007, and its name did not figure in the January 2011 list of order and delivery figures. Cancelling such huge orders comes at a cost, as an airline would have to forfeit deposits that run into millions of dollars.
An email sent to Jeff Livings, CEO, Aviotech, did not elicit a response. Livings, a veteran with 35 years in the aviation business, was the chief operating officer of Flyington before he moved to lead Aviotech a couple of years ago.
Of the Rs 170 crore raised from Future, Rs 50 crore went to Aviotech, according to the Karvy complaint, bolstering market worries about off-balance-sheet items dragging down what is essentially a media company, with a strong base in the South.
These are difficult times for the core business, but hardly life-threatening, at least according to Reddy. The liquidity crisis has arisen “due to a significant reduction in ad spend by domestic and multinational companies”.
Even Deccan Chargers, the IPL team owned by DCHL, which had run-ins with its erstwhile CEO Tim Wright, who won a suit in London, seemed to be under control. The fund manager quoted earlier said the team’s revenue from television largely took care of itself. “They have to pay a $10-million annual fee to BCCI, and have to spend a few crores on player auction. These are taken care of by the revenue share from TV and ticket sales.”
In the year ended March 12, DCHL made a net profit of Rs 60 crore on a revenue of Rs 870 crore. While the top line has been under pressure with declining advertising spends, things have not deteriorated so much to suggest an 80-per cent decline in the stock price over the past year. One year ago, DCHL’s shares were trading at around the Rs 70 mark. After hitting an all-time low of Rs 12.65 last week, the shares recovered to close at Rs 14.20 on Monday.
At this price, the total market capitalisation of DCHL stands at Rs 345 crore, with close to 70 per cent of the shares pledged with lenders, rendering it a low-hanging fruit for predators.
If this still does not add up to the spectacular collapse, a Deccan Chronicle employee tries to offer his own insight. "Over the past few months, the Reddys have grown close to Jaganmohan Reddy, who is widely expected to come back to power," he says, "which seems to have angered the powers that be". On June 15, Jagan's YSR Congress routed the ruling Congress in the by-elections, winning 15 of the 18 Assembly seats. On July 5, the Deccan Chronicle carried an exclusive interview of Jagan's mother, YS Vijayalakshmi, saying her party would trounce the Congress in the 2014 Assembly polls.