They might soon be editorless, or several tens of editors less (or not, as people from the second floor of BSZ Marg are telling me now), but the marketing machine that is the Times of India will not quit. Which is why even the denizens of Dubai (EDIT: It may not be Dubai as someone just corrected me, but according to sources in the advertising world, there is serious talk of an international edition, which may or may not have the Times brand, or it could even be a Gulf edition of ET) will soon (hopefully) be able to get daily gossip about some failed B-actress and some actor who had a hair-job while finding out why they should invest money in the same companies as the Times Group, but more on the seemingly pervasive nature of private equity deals by media companies later on in this post.
Plus, this private placement thing seems to be catching on, even TV18 is getting into it in a big way, HT is already into it and so, we are informed, is The Indian Express. Huh? Just what can the Express offer any company is a bit beyond me, but heck they're getting into the game also. Interestingly, expect another large wave of mid-level shuffling across all the business publications. The monies being offered by some organisations borders on the ridiculous, but I can't blame anyone for being blinded by dosh.
This will also happen across the business channels, despite UTVi being absent from theairwaves (or at least I can't seem to find it anywhere) and Money TV (Bennett's new business channel) still in the planning stage but lots of names are being bandied about - the husband and wife pair (talk about ethics) or maybe the God and Godess (unrelated) of CNBC. The salary figures being quoted are astronomical, so ridiculous that I think everybody desperately needs to lay off the cocaine. Three-Four-Five Crores, the prime minister was complaining about the salaries of Chief Executives, soon the government (Priyo) will start making noises about journalists and
Sainath will bemoan this fact when he addresses journalism students with dollar signs in their eyes.
Plus, someone really ought to tell Sainath to quit moaning, because that is not the way reportage of rural affairs will happen. I do not deny for a minute that rural matters are neglected in the Indian media, hiden somewhere inside some actresses vapid mind. But, where do you fit rural affairs in? No paper wants to have rural news on front pages since they believe they are addressing an urbane audience, which is rather selfish. Who cares if a farmer in Bundelkhand doesn't have water, is what the readers are saying, because there is no water in Kalkaji.
The problem doesn't lie with the media or editors or media houses, it lies with the Indian middle classes.
And the 'point of no return' fact I mentioned yesterday apparently means that someone somewhere will be making a lot of money in their next few pay-cheques! Even if they don't quit.