Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Poor, poor Outlook...

Lets not get into the details of just how horribly broke you guys are, but for Christ's sake, when you do a bloody technology and gadget special please check, double-check and triple check that an image of a gadget you use actually exits. Like the gadget you claim is a PSP. It has iPhone logos, a sliding QWERTY keyboard and a Cybershot logo. I've never been a major fan of the PSP, but something like this pssing under the radar. I mean Apple and Sony working together. Of course, Outlook also had a piece on internet hoaxes in the same issue. Makes perfect sense now. But guys you just lost all your gadget cred if you got undone by a photoshopped gadget. It had clues giving it away. For the record, the 'PSP-iPhone-Sidekick' is pictured below and originally came from here.

Stuff you never see...

Rajnath Singh meets his puppet at an election rally in Delhi. Pics sent by V, who happened to be covering the event! I wonder what the conversation centered on? Maybe they discussed comb overs? No wait, that is Arun Shourie's speciality. Possibly they debated temple designs. Or something like that.
Anyway, what are your predictions for the elections? Like a responsible citizen I will not be voting in my assembly constituency this time, primarily because I haven't gotten my vote shifted from one assembly segment to another. And also because I will be travelling that weekend through rajasthan, where I believe the Congress is putting up a mighty fight.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Sorry for going AWOL over the past week, I told myself that I would not be a cynical bastard online and write only nice things over here. Oh, that and I've been hoofing around a bit. In Pune. And interviewing business tycoons till three in the morning (only one man in India will do that, so guess who he was). Last week will go down as one of the strangest weeks I've had in a while and it ended on a sour note for a variety of reasons.
Back to the media, the gossip about one channel being bought over or not being bought is carrying on, but here is what we're hearing - the valuations being asked by the promoter are far too high, and the buyer might wait for a total collapse in the advertising market before any purchase is made. But it is print where all the fun is happening of late, it seems that a couple of publications which went nuts adding subscribers over the past couple of years are actually cutting back circulation. Not only are pages being cut (the 32-28 move) but one paper believes that to be #2 it needs to cross just 20,000 not touch 40,000, and with high-paid editors to feed, they're halving their print run to that they can stay minty fresh!
Another couple of media groups are bleeding so much that subsidiary publications have been shut down but another group which launched several foreign publications (two actually) has been forced to re-look at those deals. However getting out of the deals will be nearly impossible without a penalty.
So is the age of the 100-page paper over? Actually with the price of newsprint where it is, don't be surprised if the massive supplements start shrinking and some of them actually shut down. As for all those great plans of starting new editions - such as DNA Bangalore, I guess those are on hold. The question is not if we are in bad times, which we are. But, whether we have seen the golden era of print in India and when the media upswing comes will the Internet play a bigger role, which I think it will. Anyway, I promise not to disappear again for a while.

Friday, November 14, 2008

On the prowl

While major cost audits are being conducted in several television channels, news comes across that in such dismal times Rajeev Chandrashekhar is sniffing around for a deal. He has supposedly already signed a deal with Star to establish a bunch of new southern General Entertainment channels (Star Jupiter?) but more interestingly, he is sniffing around for a news channel. There has been much speculation on this front, much of that has surrounded whether it is a smart time to buy a channel and which channels (UTVi and Headlines Today are the channels in question supposedly) or not, but RC is a clever operator, I think he is planning to pick up a low rated channel for a song, and build up a credible media empire. Which is why there is also speculation that RC might buy a newspaper - Deccan Herald is the name most often dropped.
After a few weeks of doom and gloom and media executives crying that a party is over, maybe there is life left in the beast as yet. Or have the carrion eaters arrived to pick from the bone and fatten themselves up. Still, we live in interesting times and timesv will only get more interesting going forward.


Well, we all knew things aren't that great, but here is a story that puts it down in words. Many of these supplements are also being cut because advertisers have dried up. Nwspapers have also started slimming down slowly but surely, editions that were bursting at the 32-page limit with an obscene ad-edit ratio have suddenly been chopped to 28 pages and talk has already started of 24 page editions. While the occasional 32 page edition slips through, the sudden drop in the size of the papers is indication enough that things are not too good. The impact on television will be a bit muted right now, but I personally believe that if things do not improve by the first quarter of next year, and I'm willing to bet twenty bucks that they will not, budgets might be slashed. Not mildly cut, but slashed. the only safe haven I can think of right now is cricket but then we have to keep playing the way we have been playing.
More today evening...

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Sitting in office on a day the rest of the civilised world can get stoned at home, I am hearing more and more speculation that a big budget media deal will take place within the next few weeks. I would think that it would be a horrible time to invest in the media right now, but things are afoot. Please email any rumours to - presstalk (at) gmail (dot) com - we can only speculate can't we?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Shyam sent this link across, and this got me wondering - Bombay-based English news channel. The only one I know of (Times Now, by the way - quick bit of advice there, if you're doing phone-in's with ToI correspondents, which is really great incidentally, ask them to provide decent pics. Watching Saibal's pic yesterday on a large screen TV was horrible. Times Now isn't an ugly channel, but things like that are scary) isn't up for sale since Bennett is possibly the only media group in this country flush with cash and Times Now is doing decently well methinks.
I can possibly speculate on a couple of contenders (a lot of speculation surrounds NewsX) - but I find Rajeev Chandrashekhar's move a bit peculiar. There was buzz when Uncle M came down that there might be a tie-up, but entering the news media space today seems a bit silly. I'm sure once advertising budgets start getting 're-aligned' starting 2009, things will just get worse. Anyway, just a couple of paise late in the afternoon. Or evening. You can't really tell given Delhi's abysmal air quality.
As usual, your comments are welcome, but try to avoid the personal promotion comments with a hyperlink added on. I should really switch platforms from Blogger soon. But that is a longer term project...

PS: Should GM be saved? I mean we will still get re-badged Daewoo cars, but the Corvette should not pass into history. Jim Cramer thinks they have to be saved beacuse not saving GM will tip the world into a Great Depression. But really running ads with elephants (and Saif Ali Khan) won't help them in India and personally I think that Obama won't really care too much about Indian operations, so I wouldn't buy anything GM right now.

And why did Baba Gandhi's trip back to college become a media event? Was yesterday such a slow news day?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Crazy people...

I find the righteous indignation that one of Obama’s advisor’s happens to also be close to Narendra Modi to be bizarre. I’ve met Sonal Shah in her role as advisor for Google’s philanthropic arm google.org when she was in India earlier this year, and she really seemed like a nice person. I can’t understand why some people just can’t get over Narendra Modi,
I’m not saying that we exorcise the demons of 2002, we can’t exorcise any demons in India, some clown will bring up old demons from somewhere all the time in a fit of righteous indignation, but stretching connections and making them flyers really doesn’t work. Which is why I also agree with Vir’s contention this Sunday that we will never have an ‘Obama’ moment in India, because being a member of the ‘persecuted’ identifies our politicians. Heck, the guy who is trying to raise money for the DMK, our dear telecom minister should be fired, but guess what he will soon claim that he was persecuted, just like Salman Khan suddenly discovers Islam after spending a night in the lock-up.
I’m surprised at how little has been written about how Google.org is funding organisations that do the government’s job for them. But no, going after Modi raises the heckles of everyone, after all since Modi=Evil according to some increasingly broke sections of the media. I just find this childish and inane. Slow news day, sure, but for crying out loud.
PS: I wonder what Babu Alva is making of his mother’s impassioned plea for him. All to get a LS ticket from now. I would just like to remind Nivedith of the fantastic success his brilliant campaign had in 1999 back in college. Including the delightful bhaiyya gag that a bunch of drunk weirdos pulled at one at night. Yes, that was fun.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


I watched a first day movie yesterday after ages, and I must admit I felt a bit iffy after Quantum of Solace. Brilliantly executed action scenes but the first 30 minutes seems like this endless action sequence. Daniel Craig betrays no emotion and does a brilliant job, I mean the guy is a fantastic actor. But, it is as if, 007 has to be more intense than anything before and my god the scenes are intense, its just that the movie feels like a blur of action at times. This is a great movie to watch again, but on a nice home theatre. But it felt good to go to a movie hall again, it really did. Watching the Arsenal beating Manchester United right now, but given our recent form I just hope we can hold on.
I drove the Audi R8 today, smoked the tyres a bit and had an absolute blast, and before that ran about with the new Maruti A-star, which wasn't bad at all. I'm wondering if I should go down to the Renault F1 run down Rajpath tomorrow morning. Plus, if any event guys are watching this, please, please skip the dancing girls at events. Getting a team of badly dressed hookers to dance does not make your event a success. Enjoy your weekend, and if you haven't been reading Newsweek's insider account of the US Elections you're missing something.
Just one last thought, now that Barack Obama has won what happens to Newsweek's resident twat - Fareed Zakaria? I've heard rumours that he might get an administrative post doing the rounds of Delhi journo circles, which is scary. But the man writes badly and is extremely irritating, but anyway...
Ten minutes to go and the Arsenal still lead!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I'm No.1... no wait...

I will not comment on how both large dailies in Delhi today went a bit over the top with Obama coverage, HT even replaced its City pages with Obama coverage. While American papers did fill up their front pages, their inside pages tended to talk of other electoral issues. Anyway, I still think we went overboard with coverage considering that most coverage was agency copy, save a couple of pieces here and there. Again Chidanand's writing was by far and away the best, but anyway, I won't carry on about Obama because the fun part was below the fold in the anchor pieces - both HT and ToI claimed their 'Number 1' in Delhi, HT celebrated the fact and starting tooting its horn yesterday which puzzled people in BSZ Marg who were poring over the numbers, and were not even looking at Delhi while in HT House cakes were being cut to celebrate the re-taking of Delhi.
But it became like Al Gore's win in 2000, someone at HT didn't exactly look at the numbers properly because it seemed that the IRS had changed its methodology, and since ToI's piece wasn't self-congratulatory (or an attempt to get onto the honours list) and after talking to the smarter stats folks, there was all-round sniggering. People at BSZ Marg, are still trying to figure out where the numbers came from. But, don't expect the last of this today, there will a bit of back and forth.
PS: Have you noticed how the papers have begun to get thinner and ad-edit ratios have begun to change. The collapse of the realty market in the NCR is showing - the days of 32 page editions might be over pretty soon and maybe by early 2009 the major papers will revert to 24 page editions.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Congratulations America

Heck, Barack Obama might be a once in a generation orator, but for any Western country, or any country for that matter to elect a member of the minority (yes, yes, he is half-white) as their leader is a tremendous achievement. Yes, he might have been helped by the tanking economy, but this was a comprehensive victory in all respects. Is he good for India or bad for India? Well, I'm sure there will be way too much analysis on that topic for a while on the TV channels, but he has some things to fix in America first. Of course, we didn't exactly help our case when our (unelected) Prime Minister told George W that we all 'love him'. I don't know how good or bad Barack Obama will be as a President of the United States, but I'm jealous of Americans today that they got a chance to vote for inclusion. We on the other hand in 2009 will have hardly any choice... a prince annointed against his will whose rural image doesn't quite gel with the hard spending man at Wasabi, a man with half a foot in his grave and another one in his mouth (the BJP's simple strategy for the 2009 elections should be keeping quiet) and a woman surviving on divisiviness and others whose politics is that of poverty, that is keeping people there.

NYT has a great piece on the Obama campaign.

Monday, November 03, 2008

What are the odds...

OK, so my favourite football team has managed to get themselves in a bit of a funk of late, but Lewis Hamilton did leave it rather late last night. I mean rather, rather late. I know the Brazilian papers will all be talking about the Timo Glock conspiracy theories but I think Karun Chandok called the race brilliantly on Star Sports last night. Karun might be India's first viable driver in F1, and if he didn't he will make a brilliant commentator. Man, Steve Slater is quite a twat, but the look of disbelief on Massa's father's face and then to see Nicole jumping up and down (LH doesn't wish his girlfriend was hot as her, since he has her) was quite a sight. What a race!
But two hours of madness came to a dramatic end and what are the chances of another black man, albeit one who doesn't wear lipstick (instead his lips show the signs of long-term tobacco abuse) winning a big event. I mean two years ago no-one had heard of him outside a few select circles, and now Barack Obama might take the big prize. I don't know if he will be a good president, but my god he is an awesome speaker. The problem for America is that the world wants Obama to win and if Obama loses, the US will lose so much credibility with the rest of the world, no matter what they do it will take them a long time to recover it. If Obama wins he will have quite a honeymoon period with the rest of the world, and supposedly 'equal' countries in Europe will wonder why they haven't elected minority leaders to top positions.