Tuesday, January 30, 2007
I just hope that 'Mint' is able to retain the design elements imparted to it by Mario Garcia, because even The Hindu could not. I think Mario Garcia brought in a great freashness to The Hindu and it looked good for a couple of weeks before the paper reverted to type - but in a more colourful sort of way.
Anyway, that's done. And now take a look at HT's absolutely mindboggling inane viral campaign for HT Cafe!
EDIT : Mint's website is located here - no content up yet! But really, even if they do a half-assed effort it will be better than all the other sites of the financial dailies and if they can steer clear of MoneyControl's habit of loading the home page with 5001 applets it should do well. In fact, I'll do a website review of various media sites sometime, but I have to work now.
EDIT 2: Like the sex-starved masses who come here looking for an erotic picture of (a particular) lithe Bollywood actress(es) or other interesting pictures, I'll spread the image now mint out a bit. Their supplement is called 'mint Lounge' and it all seems interesting. Lets see if they are able to give ET a run for their money.
Monday, January 29, 2007
It is safe to assume that January 31/February 1 will be the launch date for the new paper. Given that the ability to subscribe for the early-bird subscription scheme ends tomorrow, I would go with the former. From initial (hazy) reports the paper has signed up quite a few people in Delhi, but Bombay numbers are still on the low side after the main paper launch didn't particularly enthuse two years ago. Anyway, it will be some time before this baby will make money, but I would really like to see what this paper looks like. If they have dummy copies tomorrow evening, I'll give you a rundown straight away.
Still want to watch Star Movies?
EDIT : Kisi ko toh akal hai! The video has been pulled from YouTube by the user (maybe because of vitriol it gout from YouTube users), what was even more spectacular is that this video was part of a mailer sent out on behalf of Star Movies by Exchange4Media. Anyway, since it has been pulled, I might as well describe it. The video opens with a shot of a woman who has beaten up, well, thats the only shot actually. Woman admits that she hasn't fallen down stairs, but has been beaten. But no-one is listening - friends or colleagues. Camera pans out and you see woman is wearing a tee with HBO logo. Fade to text saying how Star Movies has beaten HBO 40 of the last 52 weeks according to TAM data. Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for another copy and will post it the minute I can.
Talking about racism, I see that dear Miss Shetty won! Now, all she has to do is to sleep with an A-list Bit celeb (ie: Big Four Club Footie player) or recently-retired Leg Spinners, sell the story to the tabloids and make even more money and even land a book deal. Maybe they could find a role for her in the 'Next video-game made into a C-grade Hollywood flick' flick. Hmmm. Anyway, I still don't understand what all the fuss was about.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Anyway, what really intrigues me most, is why 'Bada Bhai' wants to fund this? I mean, not that he will do it directly, one of his underlings will be asked to put in the money, but you know that the shots will be called from a small office in Nariman Point. Of course, that is what intrigues me most, um, the other thing that puzzles me is content. I mean c'mon 'Content is King' right? Well, it is actually the advertiser who is king, but let us for one second believe this 'Content' funda. What on earth will they show on this channel - other than the cursory obnoxious talk show hosted by 'The V'. But, you will have to have some content beyond that - I guess the couch will be used quite liberally in this channel, but that is just me.
Anyway, recenly a media mogul (or mogul-ess, in this case) and Rajya Sabha MP celebrated her birthday in London, flying down a host of Delhi's elite, self-important admen and layers BA Club World. At the same time, her underlings who are in the process of starting a new newspaper have supposedly made a funny rule banning personal phone calls in office time, and are working people so hard without a paper out that some people have already begun to leave for the greener (or pinker) pastures of ET, where they can make as many phone calls as they like, because they only have to write one story a month or something like that. And the launch of this new newspaper has been temporarily put off from the 26th - it will now be launched within the next ten days. Or so I should hope, I keep getting emails from people working on their desk trying to sell me subscriptions.
The capital of the country is in complete lock-down mode today with more mindlessly placed checkpoints all over the place. If you drive past India Gate you will see random tanks and missile launchers all over the place. For the parade, but I still can't quite make out why we pander to our socialist roots by having this rather ridiculous show every year which puts Delhi though two weeks of diversions and traffic jams. I'm sure President Putin will feel more than the usual hint of nostalgia during the show.
Anyway, Happy Republic Day everybody. And before I go, during last night's random Tequila drinking, a senior colleague from Bangalore (so much for anonymity) told me that this blog is quite popular down there - something that the traffic stats back up. Hey thanks - even though most visitors come from the NCR and Mumbai most of those guys I think are looking for Mallika Sherawat or naked air-hostesses or something like that!
So, I was curious, I mean I've carried this blog on for over two years and nearly 500 posts 130000+ visitors in the last 18 months (averaging over 300 plus daily nowadays) even though this blog doesn't do the sneaky trick of boosting blog hits through an annotated feed (50 subscribers on Bloglines, thats 49 minus me, don't ask me why I subscribe to me own feed and that is discounting the Feedburner feed), so maybe some people who have visited this blog for a while can tell me what they would like this blog to do. Any changes in terms of design, layout, content (I doubt I will change content, but you can give an idea right?)
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Do we really make a huge hue and cry about Arab Sheikhs who work some our brethren (in the sense that we hold the same country's passports) to death building their massive towers and islands in the sea. No. You see, those guys are dark-skinned, mainly illiterate people from the villages - why should the city or even the media give a damn. Look at it, every second day, some guy (usually from a sub-continental country) falls off a parapet or a nurse/maid is raped. No, we don't give a flying f***. I will tell you why, and I know that some editorial writers have brought this up in the last couple of days, but I brought this up in November 2005 - read this post again. And I really don't think the situation has changed - anybody who went to the Herbie Hancock concert the other day will testify that the cops rolled over backwards if they saw a pink-skinned couple - even trailer trash.
Racism and regionalism are going to exist as long as the global gene pool doesn't merge into one, and I doubt that will happen for at least a millenia or two. My point here is with the other big news event - Sourav Ganguly (now, if I had to be really parochial - and I can be at times I would have spelt his name with a 'bh'). I have no clue why his Bengali-ness has to be brought out everytime. I like Ganguly as a player, I really do but I don't understand what 'Bengali-ness' has anything to do with it. Unfortunately, for Bengali's - the current symbol of Bengali-ness is to fake hunger-strikes. I mean, does Mamata Banerjee look like she went through a twenty-or-something day hunger-strike? Mamatadi, a small bit of advice, if you want to do a hunger strike, take some lessons from this one.
Anyway, I was genuinely surprised at ET on Saturday (even though the story was wasted on a Saturday) but a great story, the best of any paper about a relatively secretive and reticent organisation. The mess at Star India makes for a compelling story, expect a few more in the coming few days - and if Nair has gone off to join Karan Johar what does this mean for Koffee with Karan on Star World? And did anyone catch my school's most famous alum on KBC yesterday. I don't know, but SRK was good, but lacked that little something, maybe in the next couple of days he'll get into the groove.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Y'know - other than banning propaganda channels shown by neighbouring countries - to the best of my knowledge Sushma Swaraj - everybody's favourite moral policewoman never banned any channels. Arun Jaitley as I&B Minister did ban TB6 - y'know that channel that used to show Playboy TV at 12 at night on weekends - the channel was never supposed to come into India anyway and one can even understand why that channel was banned. But this takes the cake! Look at it this way, Sushma Swaraj might have railed against FTV, but she never banned it!
And this man just doesn't shut up - he tries to precipitate a diplomatic incident as well. The man whose job it is to rescue Doordarshan - and do something about AIR (Even though I was amazed the other day when I put my tuner to 102.6 at eight in the evening and heard Death Metal - Death Metal, not hard rock or eveil Metallica or Megadeth type metal - this was serious stuff - at eight in the evening. Nothing wrong in that, but it does make you wonder why AIR FM doesn't get any adverts!). On the Shilpa Shetty incident, I think the woman who has in the recent past joined Yana Gupta on the list of VJM's squeeze's - Germaine Greer has a wonderful article about it. I agree, I think Shilpa is doing a fantastic job in showing us that working class Britain is still full of yobs and racists. But, my god she is milking it - little wonder William Hill has made her odds-on favourite.
And you want to see the sort of ads that AXN played to get banned - here is one to watch, risque, maybe. Suggestive, yes - but for God's sake!
EDIT : And thanks to the power of the big, bad, interwebs - we have Shilpa Shetty in the Big Brother House at YouTube, that wonderful repository of things!
Look at the related videos link for a lot more. I wonder if Miss Shetty will end up in a Hollywood production thanks to this fiasco. I still can't get over the protests in Patna - Why? This country is becoming weird too, no wait, we are weird. Yes, I agree, it is a surreal diplomatic crisis. Poor Gordon Brown, I feel for the man, he came to India to show off his credentials to the erstwhile colonials and he gets sucked into - this!
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
OK, I won't delve into the rumours about how Junior bats for the other team or how much a night with 'Ice Maiden' costs and how many times 'The A' has done her - well, an accepted standard according to one Bombay journalist at the Press Club there was to count the new diamonds that his wife was wearing. Shit, I just did.
Anyway, I must specify that these are all rumours and I may or may not subscribe to them. But, back to the point, I will be a cynic and say that there is something really fishy about the shaadi - I mean given that Amar Singh did all the dalaali and the UP elections are due (just after shaadi time) and that the UP government is getting a bamboo pole shoved up its backside by the media for well, everything that is going wrong in India nowadays. And ironically, almost everything that is going wrong in India nowadays seems to be happening in Uttar Pradesh. Just look at Nithari - I mean, the CBI has come and discovered more bodies. (By the way, do Outlook's and India Today's design teams get together and have a drink every once in a while - "you use a solarised blue picture and i'll use a solarised red one")
How best to get all bad news off the front pages and off Aaj Tak - get two of Bollywood's two worst actors (well, they're beautiful people, but lets not get into their acting skills, eh - I just saw Guru, even Mani Ratnam couldn't save them) married off. This is no doubt, the biggest star-wedding in a while and it has been expected even. But actually getting Amitabh Bachchan to CALL (he did, really!) up editors to inform them that this event has happened. That is actually what happened on Sunday evening, people didn't call up Amitabh - he called them up. Now, from what I know of celebrities after watching shows that the kind people at E! bring us - celebs use the media but are usually quite reticent about things like this - just look at the TomKat wedding or even the Bragelina spawn incident in Namibia. But, instead these guys have gone all out to court publicity (Amar and Amitabh) and giving interviews to channels that beam into the Hindi heartland - ie: Uttar Pradesh among others.
Now, one opinion - the one that the mainstream media which doesn't indulge in mad rumour-mongering because respectable journalists like Barkha Dutt work in the mainstream media after all - will say that the Bachchans thought it best to engage the media. Well, I'm just floating a different idea, which would make a lot of people ask me what on earth have I been smoking? (Nothing terribly exciting, I must add) Miss Dutt, we are a democracy and I am entitled to my opinion, even if you think otherwise - so :-p to you! By the way, I must clarify that to the best of my knowledge, I'm a fairly respectable member of the the mainstream media and if you really want to know who I am, read this blog well enough, its not exactly a state secret!
Oh yeah, I just have wild opinions, for more on the the Ash-sekh (though Ass-Ekh sounds nicer I think) shaadi - please read Greatbong!
Monday, January 15, 2007
And nothing like a forthcoming celebrity wedding (even The Hindu thought it newsworthy enough for Front Page!) to bury Nithari - more on that later! And by the way, their latest movie together isn't as bad as their last movie together - but its bad despite the director and the hype. Thank God for Mallika Sherawat!
Thursday, January 11, 2007
Back to the story, DTH is a fairly expensive service at least in terms of initial cost - so you can assume that people who have been installing DTH (take a look at rooftops in South Delhi and South Bombay homes). Now this, is prime-English speaking (SEC A+, actually this would be SEC A+++ if there was such a category) territory - which means this is prime CNN-IBN territory. As it is you don't get CNN-IBN on the free feed, and you also don't get it on the DTH service which has been the clear winner in the CAS brouhaha. Now, if GBN has an IPO, and it is planning one fairly soon, and the service isn't availble in prime markets - keep in mind, English News channels command decent ad-rates (better than all but the highest viewed Hindi channels) simply because of their viewer profile, even if they output utter tripe.
As a GBN shareholder, wouldn't you be concerned that the flagship channel isn't available in lots of homes? Think about it - GBN will have a fairly hefty (though not as ridiculous as Cairn or as ridiculous as DLF is expected to be) priceband. I'm also fairly sure that it will be oversubscribed, but until they get onboard Tata-Sky, they have trouble ahead. Now, what is peculiar is that the other TV-18 channels are on Tata-Sky, but CNN-IBN isn't. The conspiracy theory goes that keeping Rajdeep off Tata-Sky is UndieTV's revenge. But, that is just the conspiracy theory.
Monday, January 08, 2007
Now, there are a couple of things that are blindingly obvious – things that you’ll never hear or see in the papers. The UP Police have done a spectacularly botched job – and I’m not talking of not taking complaints from migrant labourers. But we aren’t getting into the callous attitude of the UP Police whose money making ability is second only to the Mumbai Police.
Given that my television alternates between Discovery T&L, AXN and Star World (Yes, I live in South Delhi, but I was sensible enough to get DTH two months ago) I end up seeing a lot of CSI. Now, the truth is that investigations even in the Land of the Free don’t happen ‘Crime Scene Investigation’ style. But carrying out bones and bodies in gunny sacks without basic forensic work? I mean, this happened in Uttar Pradesh, our Land of the Free Criminal, so we have no clue if Moninder and Surendra are being made the scapegoats for what one of Mulayam’s henchmen did? I mean Mulayam’s brother considered Nithari ‘small and regular’.
Now what? We are subjecting the two suspects to a technique that has on the whole been fairly discredited in the west – as being against Human Rights. What ‘Narco Analysis’? It would be far more effective to dope these two with a decent hit of LSD and then see them mentally disintegrate when you show them pictures. Hey, I’ve seen people on LSD admit to affairs and worse – if they go into a bad trip, all sorts of little secrets can come tumbling out. But can the testimony hold up in court? I’ve asked criminal three lawyers this and all three of them say that any ‘confession’ from this sort of method (though good enough for the CIA) may not hold up in court (which is why Telgi’s admission of his ‘accomplices’ has never made it to court and might never will).
All that I’ve seen in Nithari is the dark side of our Police Forces and Investigative methodologies (not even an Edit on this, by the way) and the completely tasteless way in which the media operates in such cases. The media themselves are in no small part responsible for the destruction of forensic materials in their haste to get a better ‘picture’ or story and inept UP Policemen didn’t help.
And I haven’t even gotten to the bit where I believe the police across the country assists in the running of child exploitation rackets.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
Now, the accepted version goes is that the person in question has a glad-eye and was dismissed because he tried to get fresh with a woman. 'Pfaff!' was how the person telling me the story described that. Quite believeable too, because the sad truth is that no-one gets fired for that, maybe a gentle reprimand and being told to lay off the ass-grabs. The real story, I'm told lies in the fact that this organisation is publicly listed.
Now, all large publicly listed companies have an investor/analyst meet every quarter or at least every half-year. I've attended some of these meetings, when the floor is open to journalists as well, and these meetings tend to be very drab affairs with numbers flying about, but management and analysts and even I treated them with a level of veneration. I mean, top management and the analysts covering the company in the same room, writing a corporate story becomes pretty easy, usually when (and there always is one) investor or analyst with an axe to grind.
Now, back to the tale. This company was having, what I believe was the half-year analyst/investor briefing in one of the South Mumbai hotels. The downside of a being a part of a listed media company is that senior editorial staff, or at least the senior-most editor present in the city that day has to attend. Which in this case was our friend.
It seems, from the story I heard, that the fellow landed up late for the meeting (and while you can pass that off in Mumbai by blaming the traffic) he also landed up more than a bit tipsy. What followed is not clear, but in involved a lot of abuses being thrown at random investors. Now, lesson number one of public companies is try not to piss off large investors. Evidently, a representative of a fairly large investor was not very happy with what he saw - a fairly high editor at two in the afternoon - this is where my investment dollars are going? A rapid series of phonecalls followed and one ended up on the Company Boss' mobile and she was then given a fairly detailed blow-by-blow account of what followed. Now, I'm not aware if there was a caveat in the call - talking about dumping the stock (which had at that point of time spectacularly underperformed in the market but since has seen fairly decent gains) but the dominoes had started falling. Know this much about media tycoons in India - they'll excuse a lot of things (sexual pecadillos, sexual pervesions even, ethical dubiousness, alcoholism, drug usage, yada yada) until cold hard cash - lots of it goes on the line.
At the risk of using yet another cliche, the die was cast.
A day later the person had been relieved of his position and ever since then only the top-top-top editor attends such things, and the current one is supposed to be quite an investor charmer. So there, people have written in saying I don't give out enough news anymore - chew on this for a while.
EDIT : The new business paper launches on Friday, Republic Day, January 26th.
Friday, January 05, 2007
"Everybody has by now, I mean Aaj Tak is alternating between that and cricket."
"Nooooooo... not that."
"That Moninder Singh was from college."
"Big deal, so was Natwar and his son."
"No but can you imagine..."
"That a serial killer and rapist went to college."
"So, some these guys tend to be educated."
"I can't believe you're being so callous about this", she tells me in a not nice accusatory tone before hanging up.
Honestly, I have to admit, St Stephen's propensity to churn out highly-educated weirdos has never been in doubt. Case in point, heck, just look at me. But honestly, the media and political circus around Nithari is becoming a bit sickening. Mikes, cameras and dictaphones being shoved into peoples faces. And as usual, one important point is being missed. I learnt this the difficult way in Gurgaon and in Mumbai. Most police forces in India, with the notable exceptions of the Delhi Police and the CISF hate taking complaints.
You can't file FIRs with the CISF, but CISF constables and officers have always been the most helpful policemen I have met and the Delhi Police, say what you will about them and their hare-brained Delhi Traffic Police colleagues and their habit of acting like Mamu's at times are by far and away the best city police force in the country when it comes to filing cases. Sure, sometimes it is a drag filing FIR's in Delhi as well, but in Noida or Gurgaon, short of calling up the SSP getting an FIR filed for a rape or murder is nearly impossible.
Of course, there is the other issue about UP itself. I know the advert that Amitabh is doing is quite nice and all, but if this sort of thing happens in the most civilised part of the state, the rest of it scares me. Thank god my folks never made the mistake of moving out of Delhi!
Back to Nithari, I'm at a loss for words. I don't know who did what, but I think this case will shut up anti-Death Penalty guys for a while. Because, I don't care which school or college who went or what not, those guys deserve to hang.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
At least three new morning papers (in
Then we will have Delhi Mirror – the bastard child born of the collaboration between 18-20 KG Marg and 7 BSZ Marg. Listen, if it is anything like Mumbai Mirror, a paper of which I am an unabashed fan, I will love it! I’ve said many times, the reason I love the Mumbai Mirror is because of its total irreverence to everything, so completely and totally trashy that it’s readable. This city is crying need of a good tabloid and with such unholy parentage, I totally expect this product to kick some ass!
We will also have Today, the morning version of the afternoon paper no-one read anyway. So will you read it? Some people certainly hope so. I’m iffy about this papers prospects very honestly, but you never know. Maybe those Media Marts's in the Metro will actually serve a purpose!
On the TV front – this year we will get KJ’s Undie’s on TV aka NDTV Entertainment. Plus, Times will start yet another channel that nobody will watch – don’t they ever learn (a rumored business channel). But a better bit of advice will be for them to improve what they have and a first step would be removing everyone and starting afresh. Hopefully TV Today won’t start another
Anyway, what I do know is that my workload for the year will increase and though it is highly unlikely that I will move out of the job I have, experience has taught everyone that never say never, eh?