Saturday, November 27, 2010

CNN-IBN not cooperating in graft probe: Jharkhand

The Jharkhand vigilance bureau Thursday said the news channel CNN-IBN was not cooperating in the probe into the cash-for-vote scandal of July.

IBN owe an explanation to the nation why they are not cooperating with agencies to bring culprits to book?


NDTV has stake in Jai Prakash Power Venture limited

As per the information published by NDTV in their annual report Core Leadership Growth - Annual Report 2009-2010, NDTV has a stake in Jai Prakash Power Venture limited

Jai Prakash Power Venture limited is an Indian power company, incorporated on Dec 21, 1994, that is part of India’s leading Infrastructure conglomerate - Jaypee Group.

Jaypee Group was recently in news for acquisition of land of the farmers by UP government for the proposed expressway and the model township to be developed by Jaypee Group

Interestingly, NDTV did not mention Jaypee Groups name in the news item Farmer agitation: MPs condemn 'forcible' land acquisition in UP

Farmers in the region have been agitating for the past few weeks over acquisition of land for building the Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway and a township being developed by a private infrastructure company.

We at Media Watch has nothing to prove that omission of JayPee Groups name from the news has anything to do with NDTV owning share in  Jai Prakash Power Venture limited

Since this news originated from PTI, we made every effort to search PTI for related news. Screenshot of what we got is also attached.


Reply to Barkhas clarification in Radia Tapes

Dear Barkha, We at Media Watch thankyou for taking times to clarify your position wrt Radia Tapes expose. We think it’s a victory albeit partial to the relentless campaign by netizens . However, It would have been wise if you could have temporarily stepped down from your position until your name is cleared by an impartial investigation a stand often taken by you for politicians who are under scam radar.

In this article of Media Watch, we would like to analyze your response as something's donot addup or as supreme court would have said “there is something rotten” there

As a journalist, whose work has been consistently hard-hitting and scathingly critical of the ongoing 2G scam and the former Telecom Minister, I am astonished, angered and hurt to see the baseless allegations against me in sections of the media this week.

The first story regarding 2G scam appeared on December 11, 2008, on Raja’s main real estate front company, Green House Promoters. The details of other companies and hidden irregularities in the spectrum scam were published over the following days.

The Mint, a leading business daily, ran a front page comment Nov 11 2008 headed “Raja should be fired”, pointing out that decisions taken by A.Raja, the telecom minister, “have cost the government dear”. The Business Standard ran an editorial on October 31 headed “Licensed to make a killing”, and mentioned how spectrum had been “handed over” to a few “select” (another neat choice of words) firms.

We are fairly confident that as a Journalist you would have read and understood the implications of these revelations.

Your conversation with Radia working as Lobbyist for DMK happened on May 22, 2009, full 6 months after 2G scam came into public knowledge. But not once we repeat NOT EVEN ONCE, you brought this up during your conversation with Radia whose work for DMK would have resulted A. Raja being appointed as Telecom Minister. FYi, Raja was mentioned 8 times in your published conversation with Radia. Now isn't that strange coming from Journalist who claims to be “consistently hard-hitting and scathingly critical of the ongoing 2G scam and the former Telecom Minister”

The edited conversations between PR Representative Nira Radia and me have been headlined to suggest that I misused my role as a journalist to "lobby" for A. Raja, a man I have never met.

You as a journalist very well know now a days headlines rarely represent whats in the body of news. Even NDTV is not immune to this. You can look for several such examples in this blog itself. So you re just another victim. Our Sympathies

It may be true you may not have lobbied for Raja specifically. But per the Radia tape transcripts you seem to be providing a communication bridge between DMK and Congress which would have resulted in Rajas appointment as telecom minister and it is surprising that as a responsible journalist “consistently hard-hitting and scathingly critical of the ongoing 2G scam and the former Telecom Minister” you never brought up 2G scam?  

Allow us to quote some relevant portions of the  transcript

Conversation dated 22 may 2009 Time 10:47:33

RADIA: No, they wanted to; they didn’t want any infrastructure, that’s what Prime Minister said, so he said that’s why they give him labour, fertiliser, chemical---and telecom, IT, they said for Raja. So what has happened is, is that message not relayed to Karunanidhi?

BARKHA: Oh I see!

RADIA: They might have told some minion down the line or told Maran who is not relaying the truth.

BARKHA: I think they have told Maran.

RADIA: Yeah, now what they need to do is, they need to speak to Kani so she can set up the discussion with her father, because even the Prime Minister’s discussion was … she was the one who’s translating, and it was a very brief discussion for two minutes.


RADIA: That we’ll try and work it out, and the let’s not you know take it a hasty easy decision. That’s the type of conversation that happened.

BARKHA: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR.

RADIA: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]---because he is the one who is authorised to speak. ….

BARKHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RADIA: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress.

BARKHA: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad---I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence].

So atleast to a laymen like us here at Media Watch; you seem to have taken the responsibility of clearing the confusion between DMK and Congress (since a minion did not do proper job) knowing very well IT was for Raja!

By definition, the insinuation of "lobbying" implies either a quid-pro-quo of some kind or a compromise in how I have reported the story. As anyone who has watched my coverage of the ongoing 2G scam over the past year would know - to suggest either is entirely absurd.

QPQ can come in any sizes and shapes it can even be the “story exclusives” which directly contributes to reputation which in a way can be linked to several gains.  If I were a well paid Journo, my motivation would have been enhancement in reputation. Anyway, we at Media Watch have nothing to prove or disprove whether a QPQ was involved in this case.

Then your defense is your coverage of 2G scam. 2G scam is one largest of scam India has ever seen. According to CAG, It caused India a loss of 1.76 Lakh Crores. So my question is as a Top journalist in main stream media house could you have afforded not to cover it! Madam you had no choice but to cover it. So your defense that you have covered 2G scam is meaningless, your defence would have made sense if you had made any exclusive exposes on 2G scam. We have not heard of any.

As a matter of record, I never passed on any message to any Congress leader. But because she was a useful news source, and the message seemed innocuous, I told her I would. Ultimately, I did no more than humour a source who was providing me information during a rapidly changing news story.

Call us naïve, idealist dimwit but we tend to believe in what people say. If someone says I am going to talk to someone, we do believe he/she is telling the truth. Lets see what you told Radia

Conversation dated 22 may 2009 Time 09:48:51

BARKHA: Also, but, but the Congress needs to tell Karunanidhi that we have not said anything about Maran.

BARKHA: Okay. Let me talk to them again.

Conversation dated 22 may 2009 Time  10:47:33

RADIA: Yeah, now what they need to do is, they need to speak to Kani so she can set up the discussion with her father, because even the Prime Minister’s discussion was … she was the one who’s translating, and it was a very brief discussion for two minutes.


RADIA: That we’ll try and work it out, and the let’s not you know take it a hasty easy decision. That’s the type of conversation that happened.

BARKHA: No, I’ll set it up as soon as they get out of RCR.

RADIA: What she saying is that, you know, that someone senior like Ghulam [Nabi Azad, senior Congress leader]---because he is the one who is authorised to speak. ….

BARKHA: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

RADIA: Right? Was to speak to her then she can tell her father that I have got this message from the Congress.

BARKHA: Theek hai, not a problem. That’s not a problem, I’ll talk to Azad---I’ll talk to Azad right after I get out of RCR [Race Course Road, presumably, the PM’s residence].

Conversation dated 22 may 2009 Time  18:09:06

RADIA: She doesn’t want to attend no because her father told her to come back. She has to follow what she’s father says, no. Call Ghulam then.

BARKHA: Let me call him.

Conversation dated 22 may 2009 Time  19:23:57

BARKHA: You see, what happened was everybody I know in the Congress was at the swearing in, so I haven’t been able to speak with the top guys, and now I just finished and I am going to make my set of calls.

Now you see Madam, We have a problem. Per the Radia Tapes you have promised Radia atleast 4 different time that you will call congress leaders. You being one of most eminent Journalists in India conferred even with PadmaShree an award given by the Government of India generally to Indian citizens to recognize their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity, we tend to believe your word. Wont the entire press collapse if people start to disbelieve their journalists?

But your statement “never passed on any message to any Congress leader” implies that you never spoke to congress leaders. Do you want us to believe that you lied to Radia?

would notice that the conversation is essentially a journalist soliciting information from one of the many people plugged in - something all journalists do as part of newsgathering. And as journalists, we also often humour our sources without acting on their requests.

We also noticed that (from the published tapes) it was Radia who always called you. Is it wrong if one would expect a “journalist soliciting information” to have made the call atleast once?

And lastly every time Radia called you there was something she wanted from you and atleast to a untrained it seemes that you were happily tagging along complying to various requests. We have nothing with us which would prove or disprove whether you acted on her requests or not. You being a  PadmaShree we would have to your word at it.

The only "benefit" I ever got from talking to Nira Radia was information; information I used to feed the news.

We would kindly request NDTV to release tapes which would prove you have published the news as soon as you got it from Radia. This would rest all the doubts. Curiously, you have not attached any Videos from 23 may 2009 which would have established that you have reported information garnered from Radia

It is important to remember that at this point, in May 2009, none of us were aware of the present investigation against Nira Radia

Madam, you seem to be missing the point. The issue is not whether you spoke to Radia or not. Issue is whether your actions helped in appointment of Raja as Telecom Minister who everyone knew was mired in 2G scam.

This controversy has made me look at the need to re-draw the lines much more carefully.

Madam, This country had (Yes had) highest regard for you. We adored the brave girl who went to front during Kargil. I personally have conversed with you several time in twitter asking “where did we lose that girl”. Media Watch really wish and pray to almighty that India regains the “innocent brave girl” who seem to be lost in the murky world of politics.

Its important for nations future that Role Models donot Fall!

Good Riddance

Author-editor-columnist M.J. Akbar has been named editorial director of India Today and the English news channel owned by the group, Headlines Today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

TOI twists Modis response

TOI Headline says 2G scam would not have happened if I was PM: Modi

Fact – Modi was responding to a specific questions

how he would have tackled the scam had he been the prime minister.

And his response was

Hota hi kyun (Why would it have happened at all)?

And Which is totally different from TOI headline 2G scam would not have happened if I was PM


Network18’s pervert marketing technique

Today, if you go to IBN website it will show a popup


The mentioned link takes you to


It seems to be a marketing technique to draw traffic to the website. Only in India media will have guts to play With such an emotive subject and get away with it!

Network18 operates in the general news and entertainment space with leading general news channels CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNN-IBN and IBN7 and has launched IBN-Lokmat, a Marathi news channel in partnership with the Lokmat group.

If you are outraged. Please let them know

“What kind of story do you want?”

Tons has already been written on Radia Tapes Exposure. People more enlightened than Media Watch have already analyzed the tapes and reported on it. So there is nothing new we can add to what ever that has already been written.

However, What we want to do here is to analyze on whether Media delivered what they had promised to Radia representing corporate houses? or was it just plain talk which most of them are claiming. For this purpose Media Watch has analyzed Vir Sanghvis’ counter point article which was written after Radia and Vir Sanghvi’s discussion on 20 June 2009. 

You can call it divine providence that the said Counter Point article was titled Time for some transparency. Who can argue on that… Yes… its time we had some transparency! Thank you Vir for being part of the Cause (albeit on wrong side).

One of primary points which Radia asks Vir to cover is the High Court Judgment on distribution of Gas between Anil and Mukesh. She wants Vir  to criticize High Court and Judge for his decisions and in a way discredit it. Following are the instructions from Radia -

RADIA: point is what has happened as far as the High Court is concerned is a very painful thing for the country because what is done is against national interest.

RADIA: It cannot be the basis of the way how we can proceed on these sorts of issues. I mean, you have to attack the fact that the judge has only gone into the MoU. His entire judgment is on the basis of the MoU.

RADIA: Yeah. But you want to say that you know, more importantly that here a family MoU has taken precedence over national interest, and what the judge has done… I mean you’ll have to attack the judge here because the judge has, what he’s done, he’s given preference to an MoU. He has held on to the MoU and said, ‘Okay, this had to be implemented.’

RADIA: I think that’s the underlying message.

Now lets a look at what Vir actually wrote in Counter Point Article.

Few of us laypeople understand what the recent court battle — which ended in a victory for Anil — is about but from what I can tell it relates to the purchase of gas from the government.

I have great respect for the courts and little understanding of the law but as far as I can tell, the judge basically said that the MoU between the two Ambani brothers had precedence over everything else because this was a special case. They should go back to Mummy who would decide how to divide our gas between her two children.

Here’s what I don’t understand: why is this a special case? And why should an Indian natural resource like gas be sold at prices fixed according to an MoU between two brothers? I’m sure they love their mother and that she loves them but is this how gas is allocated? The Ambanis are welcome to their fight but do we have to pay the price?

So as asked, Vir criticizes High court Judgment and even subtly ridicules Judge saying Ambani brothers were asked to “go back to Mummy” . Also its amusing how he feigns ignorance of Law when the fact is he knew exactly what he was writing and intended effect!

Second point which Radia wants to highlight is how Anil Ambani got the Gas fields cheap

RADIA: Yeah, but Vir, you have to keep in mind that he has been given the gas field by the Government to operate. He spent ten billion dollars on it.

VIR: Okay.

RADIA: Anil Ambani is getting the benefit without spending a cent on it…

VIR: I’ll make those points, no?

RADIA: Yeah.

And this is what Vir delivered

Mukesh had paid for the gas and Anil argued that he deserved to also get it at a lower price because of some agreement with his brother.

Thirdly, Radia wants Vir to highlight the issues of allocation of resources. For this Vir suggests

VIR: So I’ll make those points. The people, because the system is so corrupt and open to manipulation, by manipulating the system, by not paying anybody you can get hands on resources. Therefore the only way Manmohan Singh hopes to survive is to get a handle on the resources and have some kind of way of allocating them that is transparent, fair and perhaps done by him.

But this suggestion was rejected by Radia as it would have shown Mukesh in bad light

RADIA: But there you will be attacking Mukesh only, no.

VIR: Why, why, why, explain that.

RADIA: You see, because a resource has been allocated to Mukesh in this case.

Having lost his train of thoughts, Vir asks guidance from Radia herself

VIR: So, what point do you want me to make?

Radia asks Vir to  propagate a formula independent of ‘courts and ministers’ to distribution resources mechanism.  In fact, Vir asks Radias permission on whether he can include ministers as one of resource allocation approving authorities which Radia rejects outright

RADIA: The point I’m making is that here, the point is limited to the fact that you cannot have a High Court deciding on this. You cannot have a tribunal deciding on this.

VIR: What about ministers?

RADIA: Even ministers.

VIR: Spectrum and co is ministers, no?

RADIA: Yeah, even ministers. You want to really look at, maybe there’s an EGoM [Empowered Group of Ministers] that got set and is looking at the pricing issue, and natural resources should be decided not by any of this arbitrary mechanism. It has to be one for the country. And there should be some sort of a formula that Manmohan Singh has to...

VIR: Yeah, that is the message, you know. There should be a formula by which resources will be allocated in a transparent, non-arbitrary sort of way. That has to be a message, no?

And this is what Vir wrote in Counterpoint article

Most of us do not get too self-righteous about corruption; we have been brutalised by decades of it. But I think we feel differently about attempts to sell off our scarce resources.

It’s one thing for an industrialist to pay off a politician to build a factory; quite another for him to corner our gas, our coal, our spectrum, our iron ore or whatever. Allow industrialists to do this and you will end up with a new league of super-businessmen, not unlike Russia’s oligarchs who nobody can ever touch and who become laws unto themselves.

And yet, as long as allocations are done by corrupt ministers, bent regulators, dishonest chief ministers and on the basis of family agreements, this is exactly the direction in which we are heading.

He must recognise the danger to our scarce resources. He must know that we cannot afford to become a land of oligarchs. And I’m sure he realizes that this goes beyond corruption — it touches the core of the kind of India we want to create.

Surely, he can come up with some transparent system which allocates resources fairly and without corruption? Anything would be better than the present system.

Vir brilliantly delivers whatever he was asked for. Resources allocation free of corrupt politicians ..Tick; Criticize present system… tick, Asks for a new system to replace present system … tick. Lastly, It is hilarious that how in process Vir also manages to shed some crocodile tears on being ‘brutalised by corruption’ and how strongly he feels for India's scarce resources! I can only say amen to it!

Lastly, As a sweetener Vir do suggest some feel good points like resources being cornered by few; how manmohan singh should put an end to allocations of scarce resources on the basis of corruption and arbitrariness at the cost etc etc

VIR: Okay. That message we will do. That allocation of resources which are scarce national resources of a poor country cannot be done in this arbitrary fashion to benefit a few rich people.

VIR: So I will link it to the election verdict. The fact that there has been so much Narega, that Sonia has commit•ted to including everybody, that it should be inclusive growth. It shouldn’t just benefit the few fat cats. It shouldn’t be cronyism. It shouldn’t be arbitrary. That’s how the message for this five years of Manmohan Singh should be—that you have to put an end to this kind of allocations of scarce resources on the basis of corruption and arbitrariness at the cost of the country, otherwise the country will not forgive you.

Here also Vir delivers as he had promised to Radia. He writes in couterpoint

He must recognise the danger to our scarce resources. He must know that we cannot afford to become a land of oligarchs. And I’m sure he realises that this goes beyond corruption — it touches the core of the kind of India we want to create.

During the last government, we said that the Congress was not in a position to prevent the allies from making money. That’s no longer true. The distinguishing feature of this government is that the Congress is strong and the allies are weak.

Manmohan Singh is better placed to crack down on corruption than ever before.

As promised to Radia, he do link this to election results, how allocation of resources should not enrich few, he even calls on Manmohan Singh to crackdown on corruption.(Talk about people living in glass house throwing stones at each other!)

One of statements made by Vir which will haunt him for ages to come is

VIR: What kind of story do you want? Because this will go as Counterpoint, so it will be like most-most read, but it can’t seem too slanted, yet it is an ideal opportunity to get all the points across.

RADIA: Okay. And you’ll do it for next Sunday, is it?

VIR: No, no tomorrow

So this leaves one with no doubt that Vir was talking about the Counterpoint Article which he is going to write.

It is amply clear that counter point article was written as per the directions and instructions from Radia and business interests she represented. It is natural if Media Watch wonders whether there is a selffish motive of some interests group behind every counter point article written by Vir Sanghvi? One also wonders what was in it for Vir?

Its time Vir Sanghvi clarify.

Screenshot of Said Counterpoint Article

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is India Today official matchmaker of Rahul Gandhi?

Nation may be grappling with frivolous issues like 2G Scam, CWG Scam and Radia Tapes expose etc but it seems that India Today has got their priorities right. Afterall someone has to think and report on critical issues whom Crown Prince would marry!

India Today in their story Who'd be a perfect Mrs Rahul Gandhi? grapples with this complex subject. If India Today is to be believed

The most eligible bachelor of the country may soon be on his way to break a lot of hearts.

Media Watch assumes that this was written before Bihar results.

Since this being an event of international importance, India Today do spend some time on various options and the impact each option would have on international politics. for example according to Indian Today if he marries Fatima Bhutto Granddaughter of Pakistan's former PM late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto all issues between pakistan and India would be solved. Also, if its an Afghan bride it will benefit country in long run(like Akbar marriage with Jodha end a war). So I guess the toss is between stopping war in Afganistan or ending issues between pakistan and India. Media Watch is sure no bridegroom wannabe would have ever faced such a difficult choice.

But according to India Todays own assessment since “Rahul Gandhi believes in wooing people through their heart” he may listen to his heart

But according to expert cricketer Atul Wassan Rahul will marry someone who is intelligent. But Media Watch wonders where will Rahul Baba get a girl as intelligent as him?

Media watch wishes all the best to Rahul Baba in finding his best match and his quest in solving world hunger


Media Double Standards

After the Radia Tapes incident one would have expected media to mend its way to regain the confidence of nation but it seems nothing has changed its business as usual. This entry to the blog is to highlight the double standards media is adopting while reporting on land scams.

Apart from NDA sweeping Bihar polls two other events caught media attention yesterday. first was BJP deciding to let BSY continue as Karnataka CM and second N Kiran Kumar Reddy being elected 16th chief minister of Andhra Pradesh.

While almost all the media reported and ranted repeatedly Sonia chorus about BJP double standards for not firing BSY. Not even single (repeat single) media house reported land scams of Kiran Reddy.

According to a TOI report Suicide attempt - Congress Chief Whip N. Kiran Kumar Reddy accused for Land grabbing ? published back in 2008, a farmer Madan Mohan Reddy created a sensation by climbing a tower and threatening to jump to death near Andhra Pradesh late Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s camp office. The reason : the then party’s chief whip Kiran Kumar Reddy encroached on his 2.5 acre land plot of land in Kaligiri village of Chittoor district and inspite of his meeting with YSR twice nothing happened. Also, He had twice climbed on to the tower and a tree in the past to draw the attention of the authorities to his problem. He was arrested and nothing was heard about this later. The same incident was reported by The Hindu also

The above is not an isolated incident. According to a report Whipped over Land Grab published by Tehelka early in 2006, Kiran Reddy was accused of encroaching upon vacant government land around his Jubilee Hills house. According to news published by the Hindu in 2006 report that encroached worth a whopping Rs. 6 crores was regularised in the name of Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy for a paltry sum of Rs. 3.76 lakh.Again nothing was heard about this later.

It is surprising that Media who even reported on his cricket prowess could not find this information available in public domain.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Seems Rahuls deadly smile' that floors fair brigade in Patna didnot work afterall

Back after grappling with health issues. Thanks for all the wishes.

As I type this blog; history is being made in Bihar. JDU-BJP combine has swept the election. I leave it to people more enlightened than me to write in detail about analysis results. However, I would like to bring out one small but critical point which would further highlight the dubious nature of media reporting during Bihar electioneering

Sometime back Times of India published a feature Rahul's 'deadly smile' floors fair brigade at Patna College in which they reported how the fair brigade of  Bihar were mesmerized by charm of Rahul Gandhi all because of his dynasty, good looks and charm. I am highlighting some relevant portions of the article

''Oh, he's so cute!'' and ''gosh, he's charming!'' The blend of pedigree, politics and his genteel manners had them floored. Someone was even heard saying, ''He's got a deadly smile, my god!''

B Com final year student Samira Fatima could not get over his peaches 'n' cream complexion. ''Rahul is very cute,'' she drooled

If the above feels distasteful, the following line takes the cake

Shweta Punj, a BCom second year student, had googled for info on him and tossed and turned in bed the night before in anticipation of the great meeting.

I am sure the reporter who wrote this would have a very good future as script writer of B Grade movies. It is really shocking how a national newspaper can even publish such a article. 

Coming back to Bihar elections, perhaps for first time in Bihar during this election Women voters outnumbered men voters.

The Election Commission statistics said that in 23 of the 38 districts of Bihar, women outnumbered men in voting while in nine districts, the turnout of voters was more than 60 per cent. Authorities said the overall poll percentage of female voters was 54.85 per cent against an average 50.70 per cent for male voters.

Now, if one were to believe Times of India, Considering that fact that Fairer sex were so mesmerized by congress that Congress should have swept the elections as according. But it seems the fairer sex who even lost their sleep over rahul didnot vote for congress