Imagine - The Nine O'Clock News with Vir Sanghvi - won't that be a doozy!
A fifth English news channel, and while I completely believe in the concepts of free markets and competition, when you already have one-completely brain-dead channel and another one half-way there, and this while the top two channels were in crisis yesterday and today, desperately trying to convince us that Kenya vs Canada is more important than the shootings in Nandigram. Glad to see that the papers were not so crazy. But then again, imagine what would have happened if even one person happened to die in a police firing in Gujarat, I wonder if the priorities would have different.
What I will be surprised to see is how Madam will partition her time between Raju, Shekhar and Vir? I mean seriously, the last thing we need is another news channel which will toe the Congress line. But then again, that isn't the point it seems about this channel, which will be run by Peter Mukerjea and his wife, Indrani, and Vir will look after the editorial policies at the news channel, but they also plan to have a Hindi general entertainment channel and a third channel. Vir's first hiring at this new channel was a person who lost two jobs in quick succession, but in his next-to-last job, he was quite the favourite.
The channel has also issued a clarification that neither MDA or Rupert have any 'stake' in the company, and most of the money has come from a clutch of private equity players. But, PE firms have been known to 'lean' towards companies if suggested by large groups, in a weird sort of 'benami' arrangement (think how Uday Kotak played this role for Pearson in the case of Business Standard - OK, I'm treading on dangerous territory now).
According a few friends over at the other channels, particularly UndieTV, certain anchors have been made some rather solid deals by INX (Plus did anyone notice UndieTV's ads in HT and The Express today morning - Bennett-style journalist market manipulation anyone?). The quantum increase ranges to 2x current salaries, which according to a friend would be a "shitload of freaking money!"
On the WTFROTD front, remember those? market rumours about Chaitanya Kalbag being on his way out at HT have hit a cresendo, one text message received by someone joked about how CK has gone for an eye operation to California and when he comes back "Sab kuchh saaf dikhaye dega." It also seems that several other journalists who were 'nutured' by 'The V' are going to join him, and the no-poach agreement with Bennett which is supposedly ending soon might lead to another flurry of good junior reporters to BSZ Marg. The stop-loss point is yet to come, but the events at the ABP Group might pale in comparison to what might happen at 18-20 KG Marg. If anyone knows anything else, do email or leave a comment!
On another note, while there are people who swear by the Hindu group of publications, I find them to be awfully prejudiced at a time, particularly against the very concept of free private enterprise. Look at this line which caught my eye in HBL on Tuesday morning...
"Private broadcasters hog 40 transponders;"
Read the entire article, to get an idea, but the adjective 'hog' has extremely negative connotations, or so a standard understanding of English would have me assume. It isn't as if ISRO is giving out transponders to 'Private Operators' out of the goodness of their heart. ISRO will make five times more money than they invested on INSAT-4B by selling/leasing transponders. Which, to break it lightly to the communists means that private enterprise is funding our recent 'semi-successes' in the GSLV project, which has led to some of our rockets actually making it up there instead of splashing down in the Bay of Bengal. However, we did use a Arianespace launcher for INSAT-4B. Honestly, man on the moon plans and all in double-quick time, but even ISRO won't put such commercially important satellite on the GSLV rocket (which couldn't carry the weight anyway).
Anyway, I have a fairly hectic time in the next few days, so please excuse the lack of posts!