Thursday, July 31, 2008


I mean, why IndiaTV? I know they suck, but...

427 channels and nothing's on

There are supposedly 427 channels on various satellite platforms available in India today - or that is what the TAM guys say. Anyway, I was talking to them a few days ago and an even more interesting factoid came out. While people accuse print, suffering the perils of more expensive newsprint of selling out to advertising, I was told that a leading Hindi news channel has of late run 19 minutes of advertising in a 30-minute prime time slot. Nineteen frikking minutes, and this is a quantified number. Where did the news go in between the adverts? It is alll about selling space, and to crucify one media group and particularly Times, when everybody is guilty (Times Now supposedly has the best edit-ad ratio currently). Because if it isn't an 11-19 edit-ad ratio, a large, 'respectable' English news channel have switched over to 17-13 at primetime (rather than 19-11) disguising it by bringing back 'recognised' faces. Most language news channels are gradually shifting to 15-15 according to trendlines. Also at prime time, 33 per cent of the ticker space is sold as adverts too. Don't see BBC or CNN doing that.
I don't know about you, but this is slightly disturbing. I wouldn't want anybody to regulate this sort of thing, but 19-11 is deecent, why are the channels pushing it. I mean, for far from the time you start seeing product placements on air, beyond the laptops. CNBC anchors selling teeth-whitener and Aaj-Tak anchorette's selling the cheap foundation they use. The Archana crowd (you know which network) selling condoms. Hey, these are 'respectable' and 'recognised' faces, so how far are we from this scenario? Even Uncle M would find such things a bit much.
Well, if you watch IBN7 which is currently obsessed with aliens, there is no news unless it is other worldly. Yesterday, it was going on about how images from space show the faces of Hindu gods and Mahatma Gandhi, things I would associate due to gamma correction errors in the image processing or bad monitor calibration. A few days ago it carried on about Area 51, as if it was something new. OK, so maybe I'm being snobbish, more getting a possibly illiterate audience inton a funk with alien talk is ridiculous and bad journalism. Rajdeep, are you reading this blog. If you aren't, you're not missing much, but for God's sake do something about your Hindi channel. Please!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Uncle has landed

OK, since Uncle Rupert is in India after many years the rumour mills have gone into overdrive. Here is just a sampling of what we have heard, and what I believe will be the likelihood of the rumour coming through. Again, these are just rumours and my opinions, so let's not think I'm puppetting someone else here, OK?

- Uncle M will launch an Indian edition of the Asian WSJ
This is a rather strong rumour, remember Uncle M bought the WSJ after the WSJ-HT Media deal for Mint. But, I really do like Mint and I think that it is a nice product (even if it is a bit thin on news per se), so I wouldn't want this to happen, but you know Uncle M... he wants control. Therefore, there is also a possibility according to one rumour that HT Media will spin off Mint into a JV with Uncle M. Hmmm....

- Uncle M wants to launch a facsimilie edition of the London Times (aka 'The Times' - you know the real deal)
Erm, very likely but while JC and AA Gill are regular columnists in the paper, which I like, would you buy it? I mean facsimilie editions telling you how white yobs are beating and stabbing people across the UK?

- Uncle M wants to bring 'The Sun' brand to India
If the Daily Mail can come in why can't The Sun. I say don't bring it without the Page 3 girls. No really, Murdoch invented Page 3 and his Page 3 is a lot frikkin nicer than the paid-for spots in Indian papers. Do note that, the link while work safe initially, does get a bit steamy if you click through.

- Murdoch will buy the Indian Express.
Unlikely, because why would someone want to buy the Express. They don't even own much of their land anymore.

- And the big one, will Uncle M dump Aveek Sarkar?
The fact that the ABP Group is in trouble is as open a secret as Business Standard's problems. BusinessWorld had around 50 edit pages in its last issue, The Telegraph is a small regional daily and ToI is gradually eating into its readership, and BCCL is already eating up the adverts, thanks to their sales staff. Small localised Bengla papers are killing the motherbrand as well. Star News wants to grow, Uday Shankar has done a great job, they want to get into more news ventures - English and Business news is what we have heard.
This rumour is strengthened by the fact that Aveek Sarkar happens to be far from India while Uncle M and his hot wife visit the country. But, if not ABP than whom? The man whose airline is on the verge of collapsing while Carlsberg steals away the market and his F1 Team strengthen their hold at the bottom of the grid? Nope. Even VJM won't try to enter into a relationship with the 'Real' Uncle. So whom... Read on...

- Here is the super-duper wild one - Uncle M will tie-up with BCCL...
You know, it really is too wild...
I have not been smoking and you know, ten years ago if you told me that I could fit eight gigs of memory into something the size of my fingernail in a decade I would have thought that you were on some really strong LSD. This is highly unlikely, given how BCCL has fought FDI tooth and nail. But who else gives you the reach? The presence? The marketing muscle? The management bandwidth? The journalists? Nobody else. And as we have said, Uncle M is the most powerful man in the world, so raising money should not be a problem, because BCCL will cost a bomb, but I would never say never.

Professional News

My alter-ego's professional movements have become a subject of intense speculation recently. In talks I had with my other persona, he assured me that he wasn't going anywhere. But he wasn't sure that he wasn't going anywhere or whether he would stay in journalism period. So he is a bit confused, which is nothing new actually. He could stay, he could go or he could decide to throw his hands up in the air and join politics or something equally insane. I mean, the guy is a pompous fart, but a nice guy at heart.
Dang! I made a funny. But seriously, never say never, but as of now nobody is doing anything of the sort. Yes, I find some of my current colleagues, maybe a couple in particular loud, dumb and irritating, but those things don't change if you go to another organisation or profession. I would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that I do not have an agenda, I am not speaking for someone else or hate any 'organisation'. Yes, I have 'ethical' issues with some things (which I want to address in a subsequent post) and I have seen with dismay how an organisation I still love has shed several vestiges of its pride.

- K

PS: Will try and get details of what all Manmohan and Sonia signed over to Uncle Rupert and his hot wife. For the benefit of readers, I am attaching a picture of aforementioned hot wife.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Uncle Rupert is in town!

The most powerful man in the whole duniya (until the evil Larry Page/Sergei Brin duo steal it away in some silly AdWords related scheme as revenge for the MySpace deal), Uncle Rupert and his hot wife Wendy Deng (EDIT: Thanks random commenter, I get confused with Chinese names because so many of them are alliterative) are coming to grace the capital tomorrow. It is believed that politicians of several colours will be going on bended knee to pay their obiscience to him - including Mrs G and LK. It is also believed that Uncle Rupert and his hot wife will visit the taj before hosting an extremely small and exclusive dinner for select guests. Evidently several important people, or rather several people who consider themselves important in the scheme of things have not been invited, but more on who has and who hasn't once the dinner has been digested.
Yes, sadly this blogger has also not been invited. It would have been interesting to discover the ways in which a 70-year old can score a hot new wife. Well, I guess part of it is being the most powerful man in the world, but there must be something else... Pots of money maybe?

What I've been watching...

Thanks to the power of the internet coupled with a decently fast connection from Airtel (after three weeks of wrangling with their call centre) and a brand-new Western Digital MyBook with what was once a lot of storage (scary how fast I'm managing to fill it up) has meant I'm watching a lot of random stuff on the computer nowadays. I'm becoming the TV newscaster's nightmare audience, the guy who needs an ethernet cable plugged into his vein. A couple of things I have to reccommend, the first is the rather funny movie 'Walk Hard' which generally makes fun of musical biopics.

And the second is the absolutely mind-blowing 2007 six-part BBC series called 'The Story of India'. I'm surprised no-one has picked this up in India so far, but I have been fascinated watching Michael Wood travel across the world telling his story.

I know that torrents are illegal and all, and the excuse that I live in a country starved for content (despite having 427 TV channels according to LV Krishnan of TAM, whom I met recently), but my god you can find some fascinating things there. I'm currently downloading a five-part series on the Wehrmacht.

What is in it for me?

"See the problem with having an integrated newsroom the way you envision it is that owners will probably make their employees work even more for nothing.", a friend in the profession called me up to complain about yesterday's post. His logic is simple, ET is trying to have an integrated newsroom for print and television, yet some print guys have told me that they don't want to working pre-market shows at nine in the morning and also filing breaking news stories at nine at night without a clearly defined compensation policy.
The question that many reporters, and more usually the 'star' reporters in organisations are asking, "What is in it for me?" And that is frankly a question that editors and management will have to grapple with, web stories can't be transcribed TV reports or held back till the edition is printed. Convincing people to file 10 50-word blog posts in a month is nigh-high impossible, imagine telling people to blog daily, even short snappy posts with a link.
So in addition to yesterday's post, it isn't just about systems and technology it is also about the people who fill in the content. If you believe some speakers at a recent internet seminar I participated in, it is all about the content and technology really doesn't matter.
And Sakaal Times is letting people go by the dozen. Quite sad, since quite a few people had joined up at that paper and they had a very comprehensive launch program covering Maharashtra, which might still happen, but a Delhi-headquartered paper was always dicey.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Despite the wishes of some readers who read this blog, I was sadly not blown to bits by the blasts in bangalore or Ahmedabad. Instead I was up in the hills of Himachal, near Kasauli to be precise, enjoying a short break from work. I must admit, the NHAI has done a fantastic job on some stretches of NH-1, the new panipat over-pass is brilliant. Well, that could be because it is only two weeks old, but passing through panipat was a mess, and now one just breezes through.
Interesting weekend to be away from a television beaming in news, I was depending pretty much exclusively on the mobile news sites of various news organisations - HT, ToI, NDTV and CNN-IBN, as well as the agencies and I must admit they were all fairly good though you did end up reading the same PTI copy in quite a few places (much like the web then). But when I did manage to watch some news on Sunday night, I realised that no major news organisation, possibly with the sole exception of CNN-IBN has managed to 'integrate' its regular newsroom with its web/mobile newsroom, and CNN-IBN hasn't quite perfected it either.
While I appreciated the availibility of XHTML sites on my mobile, particularly since I was rather far from a computer as well (hence no posts) there is still quite a difference between the news I see on most online sites and the news you read or view online or on your mobile. I know that networks are a major limiting factor for mobiles today, but with the government desperate to raise cash (and now firmly in the saddle, though I'm not so sure about the telecom minister keeping his post), I assume 3G auctions will happen rather shortly and that we should see the first 3G network deployments by sometime next year. I also know that the telecom companies will all say that 3G will primarily be used to 'enhance' voice, but the massive amounts of bandwidth available of HSDPA networks will allow for hardcore data-streaming. I seriously doubt that networks would implement a data-intensive mobile-TV platform, but YouTube clips on the go, or maybe more salicious stuff might become more popular. It will also mean that larger numbers of Indians will start seriously consuming media on the small screen.
And that is a huge opportunity for media companies. In fact, Indian media companies are not blind to the net. Most of them have decent websites. But the lack of integrated newsrooms leads to all sorts of issues. On TimesGroup sites for example it sometimes is impossible to find a link to an article, even if it was the flyer for the day - either on ToI or ET. Now, ET wants to build an integrated TV and print newsroom with rahul Joshi firmly in charge. Somehow, according to several ET print veterans, he is powerless about the web.Which might be the case, but I still feel ET can do so much better online. I mean, it is a leading brand, and it is very frustrating that sometimes when I read a story on the paper and want to send a link to a friend, I can't find it, forcing me to check out the 'epaper', find the edition and relevant page and then email the story. Five minutes instead of 30 seconds. And it is the same case with ToI. Oh yes, and then there are the page layouts online, but that is something several other sites are guilty of as well.
I must admit that for a fairly simple site and despite the often bewildering results a site search shows up, HT's basic site is rather simple and fairly easy. OK, so you have to increase the font size, but then I'm quibbling over minute things. It isn't a paragon of simple design such as the Guardian Online or The Economist online, which allow you to get pretty much zip-zap-zoom to a story.
Now, the problem according to some people on the technology front is not the lack of technology or that of money, but the desire of journalists working the newsroom. Almost everybody wants to be on the 'big' news team, not the step-sisterly 'web' team. But other than some people to maybe format the stories and sometimes enter links, a sort of 'web desk' why should there be two separate teams? The future is coming fast guys, and I don't get why so many of you don't want to accept that reality. I've thought very often of killing K off, because he is increasingly becoming a liability rather than an asset, but K gives me some sort of a pulse of what is going on on the interweb, I've learnt a lot from K. I've made friends, and more than my fair share of enemies and to some of them, I'm not against any media group in particular and big deal if my political opinions piss you off, this is a democracy right? That said, I seriously hope that V.K Malhotra stands from the new Central Delhi constituency, because leanings aside, it is very difficult to vote for the man if he was to stand from my 'new' constituency.
About the BRT story, it is the headline I had an issue with. I live near the BRT and I commute, or rather used to commute down that stretch everyday, now I route myself around it. Human blood vessels also route themselves around a benign tumour. I do not disagree in principle with public transport, because I've used buses and had the BRT been made when I was in college, I would have been a big votary for A/C buses, but the implementation of certain public projects. On NH-1 near the border, there are public works projects delayed for years, but the government wanted to force a BRT down our throat. If planned properly, which included the banning of all commercial vehicles on that stretch - that road is particularly dangerous and narrow at night when trucks laden with bits of the Aravali's are racing down - including all three-wheeled commercial vehicles, a slight widening of roads, better planning basically it could have so much smoother. I don't see why anybody should wait for 10 minutes to take a right turn at Chirag Dilli flyover. It is hot, petrol is expensive, and tempers will fray. And by the way, the AC buses don't take right turns at the flyover. I'm no city planning expert, but I can see the BRT every day and if you think that is a success, man you're smoking much better shit than I am.
Anyway, going through the last few days papers it seems that political adverts are getting whackier and whackier. Seriously, those guys should hire copywriters!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So what am I doing?

I'm getting asked that question a lot nowadays thanks to high-level movements in the publication I work for. And I can pretty much guarantee that I am not doing anything of the sort. As of now. Sort of. Maybe.


Well, the UPA-apologists just keep on coming and I have questioned Rahul Gandhi which is why according to some, I am a criminal. Nothing wrong is being right of centre is there? Honestly, you know what I would really like is a BJP-Congress grand colaition not just in J&K but across the country, it's a dream but I can dream, right? Anyways, moving beyond politics, which I guess we will not be able to over the next few months, and coming back to Private Treaties. I have been talking to a lot of VC companies and entreprenuers of late along with other guys who track the sector. A sector where Times Private Treaties preys on unsuspecting companies. One rather interesting factoid of Times PT is their valuations. I am told that TPT values companies ridiculously high and have clauses against 'down' valuations in future rounds. As VC/PE firms become more judicious with their cash, the TPT valuations are beginning to hurt some firms.


No scene the BJP would have won,. why do you think Advani was cribbing about 'horse-trading' for so many days. I probably have more inside information from the BJP than most, due to reasons of birth, and that I guess does make me a political animal. I still believe the BJP did not use the correct speakers during the debate.
Some of you are more aware than me, and others just find Rahul Gandhi 'cute'. I find the unstoppable fawning over Rahul Gandhi disgusting. Sure the boy could well be future Prime Minister of this country but stop treating him like Prince William, he is not an annointed ruler of India. He will still have to win an election, and I have my doubts that the UPA will pull off 2009. Anyways, I digress...
The last year has seen a proliferation of technology news sites in India, there are quite a few of them and I am friendly with some of the folks who run these sites. But, this is still a sector that is trying to come to terms with news. Which is why the comments on this post are particularly interesting. Stolen stories, stolen credits, this is rather fascinating.

Omar Abdullah

Since I am pretty certain that the BJP will sweep the Jammu seats when J&K goes to the polls, I'm just curious as to know if Omar Abdullah will truly become like his father. He might have been finger-pointing at Advani in the Lok Sabha, but with the PDP likely to go back to the Congress (and unable to muster a majority) what will the National Conference do? Will Omar Abdullah follow his conscience. One of the better speeches made that day that nobody is talking about is that of Hyderabad's MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi, but the award for the worst waste of two minutes goes to Mehbooba Mufti who didn't know what to say.
As for V.K Malhotra, people foget that he did defeat Manmohan Singh in South Delhi a couple of elections ago, and Delhi MP's don't really have to do much. Despite my right-wing leanings if Malhotra stands from my constituency again (now South-West Delhi according to the redrawn seats) I will vote against him since he let Shiela build that accursed BRT system, which for some reason HT has plugged today. Little wonder the paper needs help. However, I have a feeling that the INC will field Manmohan Singh for the Lok Sabha this time out from a Delhi constituency.
P.S: Weirdly enough, I believe the best thing possible for both the people of J&K and the country as a whole would be a 'grand coalition' in the northern state. It will never happen, but it would be a great thing.

What is wrong with you people?

rahul Gandhi did not speak from the heart, he spoke as an interested party. The woman he spoke about hasn't eaten for two days. He spoke because a speechwriter wrote that speech. For God's sake, what is all this claptrap about every home suddenly getting electrified thanks to nuclear power that people are going on about. Yes, the deal isn't horrible, but we are signing away some sovereign rights for Nuclear Power which is a good decade away, but hopefully it appears that Obama might do India's dirty work by attacking Pakistan (why do I have a feeling that the attacks might be staged from India, no matter who is in power). Have people forgotten to think. NDTV and CNN-IBN are annointing the man King, can't you use your judgement to question it. What happened in this trust vote was disgusting, and now the government which first doubted the existence of Ram is saying that ram destroyed the Setu?
Yes, I admit the BJP missed several tricks yesterday, they made a clown of a man called Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who is incidentally my Member of Parliament speak instead of letting Navjot Singh Sidhu speak, who would have been far better. Anyway, the first bunch of elections are due this winter, there is no way Shiela will win after the BRT fiasco among others, Vasundhara will romp home, and Chauhan should win with a reduced majority. What voice of the people is everybody on about? Will the Congress be able to keep mayawati at bay? Bullshit, they will, they don't even understand Mayawati's core constituency.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Interesting stuff...

Buried in the news of the trust-vote and horse-trading was a little news item on the Supreme Court 'advising' the media to restrain themselves on reporting the Arushi case. It might be a bit late, since politics will continue to be the flavour of the season for the next few days and Arushi's tragic case will be pretty much forgotten. I found this video on YouTube thanks to a friend, and thought that I could highlight it here on this blog.
I have said before that some of the coverage on the case was disgusting to say the least and made in extremely bad taste. Before the UP Police could malign the poor girl's character, some of the channels had already done their bit. You can't turn back time, but I hope this case will serve as a lesson to everybody.

BJP Presser

LK Advani rails against the government, horse-trading and yesterday's vote while explaining why the party has expelled several MP's. He also asks why the 'channel' has not yet sent the tape to Somnath.

The 'Tape'

I spoke to some senior people at 18-Land, where there are questions being asked, "Why did we do this in the first place?" According to a very senior editor at 18-Land, it was not Rajdeep who chickened out of airing the tape, but supposedly it was Raghav Behl who took the final call. Why? The ostensible reason being given is that the channel didn't want to take sides, however some people have pointed out that the if despite the video if the UPA won, all of TV18's various arms would have faced the full force of a vindictive Finance Ministry.
So how incriminating is the tape, according to one person who has seen it, it is very incriminating and the storming of the well is just the tip of the iceberg. It remains to be seen what the Speaker does with the tape.
I don't know why the world has taken off on Rahul Gandhi. RG's was a well-written speech, but it wasn't very well delivered. In fact other than his father, Rajiv Gandhi, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty hasn't had great orators. Nehru wrote great speeches as did Indira Gandhi, but not the best orators - Rajiv Gandhi spoke well in English. His brother believed in actions rather than words, so well...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Money on the table

Wow, that is a lot of money on the table in the Lok Sabha. Wish I could get my hands on some, it could help finance a new Audi A4 for myself!

Humko Bolne Dijiye...

Laloo is entertaining the Lok Sabha, best entertainment on TV. Sorry Colors!

Can anyone actually make sense of what Laloo is saying, I understand Hindi, but there seems to be nothing of any substance in his speech and Somnath is guffawing! So much for our elected leaders!

Rahul Gandhi spake... Objectivity died!

I was surprised that Rahul Gandhi spoke in English, while his speech was far more confident than that of Manmohan Singh, I really do believe that Rahul-baba should have spoken in Hindi, because that is the language of the majority of the voters in this country. And while we often make fun of the Hindi TV media, they do have immense reach, and I think RG missed a trick here, I really do. Or was the boy, educated at St.Columba's and St.Stephen's (ironically places where I stuidied) not at all confident about his Hindi?
I still think the government will win, maybe around 275-280 votes in their favour. The Congress are past masters at this, and I think that the NDA is feeling the absense of PramodMahajan acutely today, because Pramod was an 'operator' beyond even Amar Singh. Arun Jaitley can run electoral machines with unflinching dedication, but AJ won't stay up for 24 hours running deals.
But all said and done, the reason the West wants the deal with India is because I guess they're still paranoid that we'll send Islamabad to oblivion. Even though the more I hear barack Obama, I have a feeling he will do that for us, little wonder that Barack is becoming the Indian right-wing's candidate of choice. And Mayawati speaking on foreign policy? What is the world coming to?
As fopr channel coverage of the Trust Vote, I've toggled between CNN-IBN, NDTV 24x7 and Times Now and somehow they all seem the same, though NDTV did gush over Rahul-baba a bit too much for comfort. And they still are as we speak.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Following up...

Following up on last week's post about Sakaal Times and the tension there, I believe the end-game has begun for the paper as regards its Delhi operations. Pity, we could hardly make fun of them. In addition, Andy Mukherjee isn't taking the FT job and depending on who you believe he was/wasn't approached. It might not be a bad idea for FT18 to keep their plans in abeyance for the time being, since other papers in the business space are struggling to make ends meet (save The Economic Times) and the situation is rather bad at a stand-alone newspaper. If the economy goes into a full-blown recession later this year, a lot of new publications might feel the heat, particularly since many of them have next to no subscription revenues.
And returning to the takeover at HT, the point someone just made to me was that Business Today is providing HT Media their top editorial team - both at HT and Mint (Sanjoy was Editor of BT for nine years, Samar is also ex-BT and Sukumar at Mint was Sanjoy's #2 at BT for several years). Good things happen to good people!
Oh, and for the government, I personally think that the government will not fall, and in the Somnath-Babu crisis, everybody forgot the simple fact that he is a man without a seat in the next election. And as for Mayawati becoming PM, won't happen for a while yet - maybe 2014's LS elections, but not in 2009.

Lewis Hamilton

What a race Lewis drove yesterday. The guy is an awesome driver, the best for a while in F12. But I was just wondering if the guy uses lipstick?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What's up at Sakaal?

The latest English Daily to hit Indian news-stands, Sakaal Times run by the Union Ministry of Agriculture (sort of) has seen a show down between the guys who run the paper operationally and the old fogeys who are the editorial chaps, leading to the two top operations guys - Sandeep Bamzai and Amitava SinhaRoy getting into an argument with Paddy and Badshah. The fight stems from the fact that the old fogeys can't quite understand why they are so unimportant, Paddy for one has never reconciled the fact that he is not the editor of ToI anymore, in fact when the new leadership at Times took over a few years ago they were horrified to find out that the guys kept on touting himself as 'The Man' - so much for having anonymous editors (even though, I doubt that is the case anymore).
We hear that Abhijit Pawar is coming here on Monday to sort out the issue, because several young Sakaal insiders tell us that the paper is doomed without Sandeep and Amitava. I have my doubts about the product which I saw in Pune last weekend and was extremely disappointed in the quality of the paper. I know this is a strange thing to say about a publication, but the truth is that the quality of the paper gives one a sort of sonfidence in the product. Anyway, this might also stem from the fact that newsprint is bloody expensive nowadays (I believe that Times' newsprint costs are in the Rs 1,200 crore region) and even several large media organisations are using B-grade, recycled newsprint for upcountry editions.
Back to the point, if the nephew cannot sort out issues at the organisation, their plans for a August launch of their Mumbai edition might be put on hold. The paper was planning an extensive launch program through the second half of the year across the western part of the country and even a Delhi edition. But it appears that the paper might die even before it took off. Pity!

Friday, July 18, 2008


As much as I like speculating, I cannot speculate about SN's move to HT, other than to say that I think it is a great move for Sanjoy professionally, because this puts him in the big league of editors. So much so, that I now making a 'tag' for him!
Ironic isn't it, the two biggest newspapers in the country are being run by people who cut their teeth at the ABP group. That group cultivated a lot of careers, but just look at their state today.
In other news, there are stories from Bombay talking about some senior-level resignations at 18-Land. Anyone have a clue?

More EchTee

The official note has gone out inside India Today, Sanjoy Narayan is leaving Business Today to join The Hindustan Times as Editor-in-Chief. I promised I would not write about this until an official note of some sort was sent.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Short hiatus

Sorry folks, I've been a bit tied up of late with work and all, and tomorrow I'll be attending a start-up gathering, where crazy people pitch some extremely unrealistic ideas at venture capital firms. nyway, there are far better Venture bloggers out there - in fact I would believe that after technology, it is the most blogged field out there in India. So in case, I don't update, it isn't because I've been told to shut up, but because I'm just taking it a bit easy. And the HTC Touch Diamond I'm using a bitch to blog from, (short review: it ain't the iPhone) so I won't attempt mobile blogging! So there maybe no posts tomorrow, but I only say maybe.
And hey, thanks for the emails, as GW would say, 'ppreciate it!

Quick Updates

Sources inform me that Andy Mukherjee of Bloomberg is all set to take over as the boss of the FT-TV18 tie-up. That's it for now.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What's up in 18Land?

Recent high-level changes at CNBC-TV18 have made it rather clear that the channel has decided to become completely and totally market-focussed. Completely markets driven without an iota of anything else. I find this slightly surprising, since they are already the leading markets channel, particularly since I guess day traders relate to them. Their corporate coverage was never half bad, in fact it is very good much of the time. Policy coverage, particularly in telecom is excellent, but the sidelining of senior folks is slightly puzzling to say the least, and some occasionally watchable features are on the chopping block is sources are to be believed. I don't know whether, as some speculate, another channel is on the way for corporate news. I mean, despite whatever I might have said about them, CNBC-TV18 is the best of the lot. I don't know whether this markets focus is because of the impending launch of ET-TV - which if ET is any indication will just be one large 'suggested editorial content' pad for Private Treaties clients. Oh and by the way, one broker friend was laughing about how Private Treaties made a lot of buys at insane valuations during the peak, particularly in online companies with slightly dubious business-models which may turn out to be a waste of newsprint in a couple of years. Quite a cost considering that the Times Group is estimated to spend over Rs 1,000 crores on newsprint in 2008. That could buy you 200 Lok Sabha MP's.

Beware the perils of the internet!

Dang, UndieTV check before you take something you see on the internet as the gospel truth. No wait, your News Net show is hosted by a well-spoken person who doesn't quite understand technology but pretends damn well. Anyway, here is the video in question, which if you've been trawling the depths of the internet is an old internet fake. Read BoingBoing occasionally, there are editors out there who do and cheat from there as well, but we won't name names right now.
Here is the video is question.

Things ain't that pretty...

Beyond the ethics of treating pictures on the internet as having no copyright and doing puff-pieces for Times Private Treaty clients, The Economic Times is also in a load of trouble of late, and that has nothing to do with editorial. The Times ad-sales team, undoubtedly the most aggressive beast in the market has not been able to place a front-page ad at ET, at least in Delhi, a market where ET is the #3 paper, much over the last week. If ET starts to hurt and stops getting big-value adverts, can you imagine how badly things are going for everyone else.
Now, we also know the story about newsprint costs going through the roof, which is affecting everyone in print, page-counts are down and ad-edit ratios are changing. But the guys who advertise are also hurting, and ad-rtes which have soared over the past two years, and that have been responsible for the mad salary increases are now starting to hurt. One editor, recently pointed out that survival will now depend on government and political adverts.
This of course leads to the question, will the bunch of private treaties guys now start buying stakes in political parties in excahnge for adverts. Imagine the PT guys offering Mayawati free ads for a 5 per cent stake in the BSP, and if Mayawati was to hand out dividends, they'll make their money back in no time. Of course, no negative stories could be done either. Personally, I don't think the Private Treaties guys are beyond anything.
Expect some high-profile launches to be postponed in this scenario and say good-bye to the era of hefty-raises. How well did you make out in this period?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

So Private Treaties is all about ads?

A couple of things, BCCL is not the only media house into Private Treaties, HT Media, ABP and TV18 (in all their various avatars) are in this game as well. But, that said, when Nikhil interviewed the Times Private Treaties guys they said that PT is about adverts. And then this wonderful piece (again pointed out to me by Nikhil) emerges. All about advertising you say? Doesn't someone get it over there? People aren't THAT dumb!
And for god's sake, doesn't someone realise this over there?

On another note, it seems that the Stephanian media is finally ganging up against Frank's madcap decisions. However, I'm coming to a different conclusion, if the college is so adamant about making the place a Christian Mission, after all it is 'Mission College', then they can have the lot. Full reservation, all seats and all teaching posts. Non-Christian teachers should all resign - and that includes those with direct access to the Prime Minister and old students can wallow in their pain for a while, but when they see things going down the drain, they won't really care.

Reservations in teaching positions is poisonous, whether it be on the basis of religion or caste. You need the best teachers, guys who want to teach despite their qualifications. Many of us still love college, but if someone wants to overdose on viagra you can't really do much. The problem the college authorities don't realise is that sooner or later there might be a backlash - maybe when the powers that be and the Centre change - it could find a form in the stripping of UGC funding, or worse. And there won't be a single murmur of protest from anyone.

New Radiohead video

Radiohead has their new video out, pity that no radio stations in Delhi are aware of the album. Bangalore is lucky to have Radio Indigo, I've heard everybody down there rave about that station. Sigh!


Summoned, Defiant, Angry, Irritated blah, blah... fairly interesting the way people are writing about Mukesh's visit to meet MMS. The trouble is that none of us really know what transpired in that room. We don't know if MMS fell to his knees and begged for forgiveness from the all-powerful lord for taking Amar Singh's support, or whether Mukesh politely requested that Murli be spared the chopping block. Or whether some sort of strange deal was struck. Or if Mukesh warned of dire consequences in May 2009. Or if MMS threatened the 'Windfall Profit Tax' that Amar has been blabbering about.
Doesn't the desi press love speculation.
Yes, and to answer, a lot of journo kids get into this because this is what we know best. And honestly, while all indications in school were that I would eventually end up here, I was so adamant that I didn't want to be a journo in one talk to class, my teacher told me not to mind if I didn't make the Yearbook committee. This is a happy accident, journalism. When you grow up around news, and your parents and their friends talk about meeting top political and business leaders, it gives some of us at least, maybe a natural touch, flair even. I don't know... but it is unfair to paint all journo kids in the profession with the same brush.
And if you don't think I'm good, don't read this blog. Your loss, not mine.

Please grow up...

Some Idiotic Readers
Listen, I'm sick and tired of this 'Daddy' bullshit, I've faced it for eight years and if someone mentions it again I'll probably kill him or her. Do some research into my family history and my angst with my father before you post something like this again. Yes, my father has helped me, that's what they are there to do. But my father has not made me a good or a bad journalist, I've never worked for him, though I have contributed to his institutions. I do call him and meet him occasionally, but I do not have any interest in his businesses, none whatsoever. As for the award, niether of my parents, and as far as journalists go, I think my step-father is a lot more influential than my father, knew I had applied until I told them to land up for the ceremony.
For better or for worse, he is my father. You can't help where you're born and if some of you are jealous about that, I will not explain this again. If you have the balls, please say this in front of me, don't hide behind anonymous comments, because it isn't rocket science to figure who anyone is. I don't want to be modest, but I'm a far better journalist than most. If you know who I am and can't deal with that, don't read the blog. And chill with the threats of 'outing' me, I'll know who did it.
Anyway, all I would request you to do is grow up, you're free to disagree with what I write here, but I don't want any more silly comments about how my father helped me in my career.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On College

The following post is about St.Stephen's Colllege, Delhi University. A College which I attended and where I got some sort of an education, but more importantly, the college where I made several close friends and learned more about everything else than about life. A college where I discovered acid, pot and binge drinking but when which opened my horizons of music, manga, literature, science and even friendship. This is not about the media, this is about a place I felt strongly, and a place that has been ruined over the past half-decade.
If you don't want to read on, your call.
Despite the fact that I do not agree with her politics, Barkha Dutt is a proud college student and her column in HT Saturday about college is wonderfully well written. It is difficult not to feel a tinge of regret about St.Stephen's today. The 'mafia of bishops' as Barkha call it have ruined college with a heady cocktail of puritanism and insanity. College is not a great 'educational' institution, it might have been but the quality of education imparted at least in the late nineties was patchy to say the least. My biggest learning in third year was that Bill Bryson is a great author - he wasn't on the course by the way, but a teacher used to read passages from 'A Walk in the Woods' out in class. College was always about everybody else, smoking pot and discussing the plausibility and contradictions of time travel with my berst friend who was in Philo Hons. on the rear balcony of Muk East before APD screamed at us for making a racket at two in the morning. Getting plastered on Grad Dinner afternoon with god knows what.
The rot started in 1999-2000, after 2001 things started to go down the drain when a puritanical regime came into place in Residence. This isn't about tank-tops and baniyans, this was about everything. Forget cheap Mall Road pot, when MS Frank took over as Block Tutor in Muk West, he cracked down on non-block students staying there. I was in my friend Thakur's room in W-Block at around 10.30 at night just yakking about some shit, when Frank came and tried to chase me out. But I didn't go, and the man threatened to suspend me. For talking. At night!
His actions today should not be seen as out of character. The man is so mad, that after he suspended Nana ('No Dogs or Franks allowed' was written on his door), a couple of other folks (manyDosco's among them - many of whom are high-level i-bankers today) sent him a gift pack of shit. Other one was the plastering of Muk West's walls with hardcore porn pictures because the man once confiscated 'wanking' material - this was a boy's block full of 17-20 year olds what did you expectMost block tutors were nice guys, guys you could have a drink with, but Frank was an idiot. I didn't realise that he wanted to deliver the body blow to college.
Please reserve seats for members of your community, but do not do this at the cost of the institution, which is what is happening today. There are some of those who want to build a brand new institution standing for excellence in education. These grads include several successful entreprenuers, bureaucrats, journalists and bankers. I'm fairly close to some of these people and I thought that they were mad initially, but when it comes to the madness stakes, the 'mafia' is truly miles ahead today.


So I'm a novice that knows jackshit about politics, what to do yaar! I just happen to know a lot more than you think. And about cracking my identity, I've said several times before it isn't a state secret by any stretch of the imagination. Thanks for the compliments any which way, as GW would say - 'Appreciate It, and thanks for letting us use your airspace to do dummy runs.'
And really people, those of you who think I know nothing about this or that - write your blogs and pontificate there, don't threaten me because those threats are irritating if nothing else. Irritating with a capital 'I'. Really! My blog, I'll put the aerlion pics up, and I know your IP address, so thanks!

Do you suppose?

That Manmohan Singh is trying to be a school teacher trying to break-up a fight. At three, bada bhai meets him (to save Murli's ass), and at five chotta will meet him (to fire Murli's ass). This is seeming like a bad schoolyard fight. A colleague just mentioned that both of them should be given one slap each and told to stop acting silly.
Of course, then there are the conspiracy theories - the first is that there was never a fight and that this is all a charade for attention to raise scrip prices. The second, more sinister one is that both are trying to kill each other. Don't ask me anything, I really don't care. Well, I care enough to write a blog post, but not much more.


Haven't been in town for the last few days, as the picture indicates. I decided to let Jet Airways bounce me through the clouds and despite flying one hell of a lot, the return flight was possibly one of the most unnerving flights I have ever taken. I came back on Saturday to watch Rajdeep hollering on TV - talking about the Talwar's suing the Hindi news channels and all. I don't know why, and political opinions I really respect Rajdeep as a journalist, why does he sound so frantic and ear-splitting irritating even when he makes sense. With him on the air, particularly hosting a discussion show, you have to keep changing the volume - 02 when Rajdeep is speaking and 25 for everyone else (on a scale of 50, which is what is there on a Samsung).

Anyway, Rajesh Talwar is a free man, the UP Police have been shown up, and it kind of scares you about the UP Police. The Talwar's have through the case, been going directly to the top of various media organisations much to the chagrin of field reporters. But, field reporters usually report the word of the police as the gospel truth - 'we think he is guilty, therefore he is'. Now, the english media managed to moderate themselves to an extent, though the tabloids were a bit off the mark sometimes. I believe there needs to be a level of moderation to coverage of murder cases, the media should not get ahead of itself and unless they find a way to self regulate through the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) I presume someone will hoist the rules on them. Another thing is that reporters should start question their 'sources' instead of dealing with them as the complete truth. I shudder to think what would have happened to Dr. Talwar had the Talwar's not had the connections to do what they did.
Anyway, thankfully, its all over now. Or is it.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Imflaing passions

The Nuclear Deal has been inflaming political passions both left and right. It has allowed opportunism to make its long-awaited comeback to national politics. But, what is the nuclear deal about and where do you stand on it? I'm no expert on the issue, but I think that the Nuke Deal is a tacit admission by the rest of the world of India's nuclear armed status. What I do know is that India is suffering from a serious shortage of electricity, most of Gurgaon and Noida's gleaming offices are being run on Diesel generators. While politicians go around promising 'Free Power', consumers treat access to electricity as a right, and many choose not to pay for it. Large power projects are stuck in either a bureaucratic morass or condemned until natural gas starts getting pumped out of the ground, something that seems unlikely. Nuclear power is part of the answer, but I doubt even with the deal in place, India isn't about to become a France overnight.
But are we giving up our sovereign rights by allowing 'outsiders' to check on our nuclear plants? At a level, I think we are, but then again the world is still paranoid that India and Pakistan are likely to blow each other to kingdom come, and India wants to show that that it won't. I still have some misgivings about this and I believe that the text of the IAEA draft should be ratified or at least discussed in Parliament. We are the world's largest democracy after all. But I have a bad feeling that with all the rabid talk by characters across the political spectrum, if Parliament is convened soon, it will be a session worth watching for the fights if nothing else, because I have a feeling that it won't stop at verbal abuse.
Then again, what if Behenji pulls off an SP split? So much confusion - let's just watch Rakhi Sawant's chat show - I think the Congress is missing a trick here - they should make Manmohan appear as a guest on the show to defend the deal. Trust me, it'll work better than an address to the nation that will put people to sleep.


While the rest of the channel go on about the N-Deal, read the text at the MEA site (overwhelmed it seems) Headlines Today tells us about Salman Khan. The influence of Hindi channels is permeating down. Hoo boy!
EDIT: It seems that Sallu was a temporary blip, and we are back to regular programming with Prakash Karat and Suresh Prabhu both frothing at the mouth against the deal. Other channels are reminding themselves that India exists beyond the deal (giving users a five minute break before analysing every single word on the deal). What was surprising that even the insane vapid Hindi channels started out on the Nuke deal, then they realised that they don'tunderstand anything and went back to reporting on crazy sadhu's and abnormal incidents from the cowbelt.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


To answer a comment, I had the news on Timesgroup's new 'flanking' business paper two weeks ago! In other news, it appears that all ET journo's - well most of them anyway will soon be given TV lessons (starting in about ten days time) as the paper intends to leverage its brand in the TV World as well because they know they can't fight CNBC-TV18 unless they do that. And CNBC-TV18 is preparing for the onslaught with a round of promotions!

New Boss

According to several sources (who kept calling and texting me during meetings) - Samar Halankar will likely be appointed as the new boss of the Hindustan Times following the board meeting tomorrow. The exact designation is unknown - Executive Editor or Managing Editor and no-one knows whether Halankar will be based in Delhi or Mumbai. My opinion is that basing himself in Mumbai will be another disasterous move for HT, but if halankar comes to Delhi, it will be a lot better than the succession of foreign bosses the paper has seen. Even though samar could not quite make a success of HT Mumbai.
Anybody have any details on Pradeep Guha's new operation?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bad Humour

The last post was a bad attempt at humour, which is why I steer clear of writing humour.
Now you know.
I wanted to use this post to highlight just how fortunate most journalists sitting in Delhi really are today. You can afford to be lazy, call and email your contacts and sit in the luxury of an air-conditioned office or travel in air-conditioned cars all the time. The media is relatively free, yes some might argue that we are beholden to corporate interests and would bend over backwards for our advertisers - even if they are lying twats like the Ponytail. But there are parts of this country - Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh come to mind where the media is caught in the crossfire of political interests. I'm no fan of Naxalism, but some of the means used by the government to combat the 'Red Terror' would make the Chinese seem humane.
But, from all that I have been reading, and I don't read anything about this in India's remarkably international-blind media (yesterday's Afghan attack aside) that reports on the madness that is taking place in Sri Lanka. Other than The Hindu, whose international focus is at the other extreme (an interview with Bashar Al-Assad on the front page a few weeks ago?) Indian papers and TV channels, even the mainstream ones have an extremely blinkered international opinion (the Hindi channel's India stops at the end of the cowbelt with Bombay being a distant enclave). The Indian government supports (and always has supported) some rather unpleasant regimes - Myanmar and Zimbabwe among them in its self interest - we want a permanent seat on the Security Council after all (the BCCI was loathe to lose a vote in the form of Zimbabwe, so...).
Anyway, coming to the point, the media has been under severe duress in Sri Lanka. There is not much someone can do sitting 2000kms away in New Delhi, but I can hyperlink. Visit the site, show your support, and if your publication or TV channel does look at the international scene beyond the PM's Hokkaido visit where he generally gets ignored and is told to reduce carbon emissions (lets shut off the generators that power the call centres - that would reduce our carbon profile who cares if the Americans crib) write about this sometime.


Do you suppose the commies ejaculated when inside the UPA's ass? Or do you suppose the Commies believe in the bareback withdrawal thing? Or did they use protection? What condoms would Commies buy?
The questions, the questions...

Arrey yaar...

Bhailogon, yes, bapuji ne mujhe internship dilvaya uske baad usne mujhe kuch nahin diya. Yes, its true that I know a lot of people for years thanks to family, but beyond my first break, I've never asked him for anything.
Anyway, yesterday in his column in Mail Today, Prabhu Chawla wonders in an aside why so many Indian politicians and businessmen end up in Dubai. And that is quite a valid question. It is quite strange that Dubai has become the hub of wheeling and dealing for India, and Emirates becoming the largest carrier to operate out of India is a direct result of this. And Dubai has replaced Bangkok as the easiest source of you know what for the high and mighty.
However, I wonder why no-one is writing about what happened in Denver, because from what I hear, a lot happened in Colorado of all ther places in the world. Why stuff happened in the American moutain state no-one knows, but maybe it is a bit more discreet than Dubai now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Regarding comments

I get why people have very strong opinions about the guy (and we know who we're talking abou), but please understand that I cannot publish some of the comments even if I agree with the points raised. Yes, I totally agree that HT will rue the day that it started to hire ABCD's but until you guys tone down the comments a bit, I'll have to leave them unpublished.

Business News.

I never knew an editor could fire uip so many emotions, the wrong way at least. People can be fiercely loyal to their editors, I am extremely fond of mine, for example - don't know about the blindly loyal bit though even if I have been around at the same job for over five years. I do know that several people have left EchTee over the past few years, heck my organisation is like a ex-HT halfway house, currently we have six ex-HT people in the reporting staff, quite a lot if you consider that we are a niche magazine.
Well, the I&B minister would have loved us to be a niche magazine. Thanks to a Bengali connection, the I&B Minister recently went to Cabinet proposing that Business magazines get classified as 'niche' and while not getting them under the 100 per cent FDI that is allowed for 'non-news' magazines - which allows Conde Nast to operate with 100 per cent ownership of Vogue, the Bengali connection wanted 'Business' publications to be allowed 49 per cent, higher than the allowed 26 per cent FDI for news publications. The reasonsing behind this is simple, the costs that have to absorbed launching a publication in a downturn are significant, and the publishing house in question is tight for funds.
The problem is that th country's largest publishing house heard of these plans and their operatives got to work. It turned out to be damn easy, since a Cabinet Minister quickly realised that despite what the Bongs claimed, buiness is rather difficuklt to classify as niche or 'non-news'. As a result the expected launch of at least one magazine has been deffered. The other launches are still hanging in the air, but that business house does not have a lack of funds.
In other news, according to one senior political reporter, the price for the Nuclear Deal was Rs 60,000 crore. That is absurd, since when have politicians started prostituting themselves for money. No wait...


Many thanks to ND for pointing me to this ranting webcomic!'
Fly You Fools - An Indian Webcomic about life and it's Irritations

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Oh yeah!

"How long have I got?"
"30 seconds..."

Those crazy Americans

The iPhone 3G is dropping on the 11th, and people are already standing in queue. It's a phone! A frikking phone, Made by underpaid Chinese labour.
Oh and expect a story on this on some English TV news channel or another. Maybe even on the one that thinks cellphones are dangerous! The Hindi news channels will probably go nuts on the man who gave birth to a baby girl.


Outlook, which is finding it difficult to find adverts for its triad of business and finance magazines (one fortnightly had a total page count of 92 pages recently, 92 pages is a big drop considering they were over 120 a few months ago - and that includes internal ads) has decided to drop People magazine in India (no desi site as yet). And while I am not the target audience for people, the Indian edition is unbelievably bad. No really, even if you wanted to see picture's of Seal and Heidi Klum's Beneras wedding or know about something or the other.. this is bad. A month's worth of the Times' city supplements is better and worth more in raddi.

If its on the web.. its a website

Technically it is an e-paper, but e-papers are subsets of websites. So, if we we had to get all antsy-pantsy, they have a web-presence through a website which only serves up a e-paper rather than a proper news site. I'm wondering if Mail Today will go the India Today web template route or the Daily Mail web template route? But it has been six months, and the deserves a website if nothing else, because they do some interesting offbeat stories.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Ambani vs Ambani

This entire UPA government survival (read: Nuclear Deal) is seeming more and more like the latest chapter in the fight between the two brothers. And a friend pointed out that Amar Singh still holds a grouse against Kapil Sibal for badmouthing him soon after the 2004 Elections. Honestly doubt that the UPA will let go of Chiddu just now, after all the reward for going slow on QQ can't be firing him because some satrap wants him to go.

Great post on the internet in India

My F1-and-Beer friend, Shyam has a fantastic and extremely well argued post on the state of the internet in India. The title is weird though, but then again...

Why Chiddu and Deora might go...

Mail Today has a nice cartoon (and since their website sucks, it reads that each of the rings on Amar Singh's fingers represent's someone's interests - Sahara and Anil Ambani's among them). Which kind of makes the point. Several years ago when the UPA had just come to power, well it seems like several years anyway, Subroto Roy had gone to meet Chiddu. Chiddu whose veshti must have been tied really tight that day, kept Roy waiting and waiting, and according to one story, Roy's disappearance from the circuit was a direct result of that meeting after which he developed a heart condition. In fact, the recent RBI volte-face on sahar's might be a direct result of recent political manueverings, but Roy was (unsurprisingly) angry that the announcement was made in the first place and supposedly holds both the FM and RBI Governor guilty (which is why the SP might ask for both their heads). As for Murli Deora, that connection is very easy to make as Anil Ambani who is still very close to the SP (though not an SP MP any longer) thinks that Deora is batting for his elder brother.
So the story that the SP wants the faces of inflation have to go is at the end of the day a load of crock. Much like the other load of crock about the Left, who are being pummelled in Bengal (though the thought of Mamta taking over is scary) and might find themselves in a bind in Kerala. I do not believe that the Communists are finished and dead in the water. the 2004 elections might be their best result, but I still think that this edit is missing the point. The Communists will always be a relevant force in Indian politics. Though, I believe that next week's trip to Tokyo for Manmohan Singh might be a wash-out for India, which really does need to make her voice heard, which is why I also believe the Indian right is being politically opportunistic when it comes to the Nuclear Deal, even though they well might be in the government which benefits from its implementation much like the UPA benefited from NDA policies.
Oh, and the BBC should eally change their Indian Business Correspondent, whose knowledge seems disasterously off the mark, making issues of non-issues and vice-versa.

Fast fast...

Hey, I never said I didn't have relatives in the media, giving their names would be anonimity-kari. Plus, my bad on confusing Mufti's daughters. To be fair, at least the CPI(M) is consistent in their support of China (India's interest's?), unlike Mulayam. Anyway, back to work, post later.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Historical Context...

GreatBong gives some historical context of spoofs, hoaxes and the like. What I don't get is the fact that sometimes there is absolutely no research done at all, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. A former colleague to whom I owe a lot for helping me through the troublesome and irritating first few months as a journalist, since my then (acting) bureau chief had taken it upon himself to screw my happiness (but I had my revenge!) once told me that 'Byline Diarrhea' was the worst disease in journalism, much, much worse that 'Ego-itis', and sometimes the lure of an easy byline is just too tempting.
I'm pretty sure this isn't the end of the story, but then again as the 'Akon Fraud' case teaches us, lies and hype can pretty much befall anyone. What is all the more stranger is that Google exists, a well targeted search (instead of just big, bad search terms) which includes going through cached stories and information can be really useful. Nobody is asking you to go to the British Council and research the mating habits of Gnats or something like that.

To answer the comment that I'm soft on UndieTV, I will answer that I'm not soft, I just can't bother to watch the channel since it has become extremely boring - even when people with little or no understanding demand 'blogs' should be banned. However, I was tremendously angry, as a technology reporter to see FUD on mobile phones (though I will admit that DG's powering cell towers are polluting - but that is due to a total failure of governance to provide adequate electricity) being spoken as fact. If you have 20-year olds doing your research, hire smart ones. And I have never agreed with NDTV's politics since I find it extremely hipocritical.

Plus, today's ToI lead by Diwakar has led to ruffles in the FinMin, but I don't think the FM will be fired just yet. But, it might be that Chiddu will be made a scapegoat for the price rise sooner or later.

Note to NDTV

I hope you realise that Kashmiri Pundits pretty much despise your channel. How can you call the BJP's actions in Jammu 'communal' when giving the PDP a clean chit and talking of how Muslim sentiments were hurt. Have you ever been to a Pandit camp? Have you spoken about the huge levels of corruption inside teh PDP and that Mehbooba Mufti was freed in exchange for terrorists (but the NDA screwed up on IC-814, which I also buy, but same side of the coin after all). I mean, it is quite obvious that PDP indulged in some electioneering and communalised the issue. In fact, Muslim appeasement by so-called 'secular' parties is fine, but if the Hindu right-wing even makes a peep on religion, it is deemed communal. Plus, henceforth, please somewhere in your channel website or during a broadcast, please carry a disclaimer mentioning that your promoter's brother-in-law is the Chinese tatta in India. A western channel would make that disclosure, why don't you? people need to know that Radhika Roy and Brinda Karat are sisters. If you can spend time doing FUD stories (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) on unproven allegations surrounding mobile radiation you certainly can do this much.
I'm not saying this because I might have right-wing sympathies, several parts of the Sangh are frankly unpalatable, run by illiterate idiots. The last government did not smell of roses, but I think the entire country would agree they did a better job than this bunch of twats.


I have to figure out why my weeks start so slow and end in this horrible mess of meetings, appointments and deadlines? Take today for example, woke up decently early but I must have driven some 50 clicks from hotel to hotel and the time in between I was invariably talking to someone or the other on the phone regarding something extremely stupid involving work. Anyway to cut a long story short, I've had a very hectic day and I'll skip on writing a post until I get home to a bottle of Carlsberg, or as a friend calls it Danish Ambrosia'.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


I know it's July but I'm sitting at my office desk staring at three calendar's which have all been 'personalised' - which means I can't give them away because every page has my name staring at me - the Vodafone one even advises me to do something 'creative this monsoon'. What Monsoon? Delhi has only seen spittle while Bombay apparently is India's new Holland.

The malaise spreads?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


ESPN-Star certainly seems to have one with the BCCI (whose website redirects to TicketPro India, the world's most powerful board does not have a website yet!), their coverage of all things BCCI almost invariably is critical of the world's favourite cricket board, home of illicitly rich men and coke snorting playboys. Have you seen Sportscenter India lately? Almost every cricket story involving the BCCI is so heavily editorialised, it is not funny. I know that ESPN-Star isn't quite what you would call a 'news' channel but Sportscenter is a news show. It is not a daily highlight reel, at least the Indian edition isn't.
Technically are sports channels allowed to broadcast 'news'? I mean with the 26 per cent rule and all? FM Radio still can't broadcast any sort of news. Then again, with news channels essentially being General Entertainment Channels, who knows what is what?


Mail Today carried the story on the masthead, but here are the contents of a mail - no, not libellous!

Penpricks, a blog run by an anonymous journalist, supposedly from Goa has taken major newspapers in the country for a ride. Though the blog has been promising to break the story soon, a Reuters blog has snatched its scoop!
Click on the links to see how major newspapers like The Times of India, Indian Express, Deccan Herald and The Telegraph fell for the hoax.
Obviously, the new sub-editors are the television generation born in the mid to late-1980s so you cannot expect them to have heard of the composer Johann Bach. Actually, one sub-editor at a news organization I worked for in the past had not heard of Dawood Ibrahim!

Erm, there could have been calls made to either the German or Israeli Embassies (some reporters did). Secondly, the Times story does express doubts (the reporter did fairly good homework, to 'claim they fell for it' is silly), and while this claims 'to expose' the soft underbelly of poor fact-checking in some newspapers, and this in an age of Google! A person who killed 12,000 people during the Holocaust would be rather well known and a search of the supposed 'concentration camp' would have helped as would a search of the 'Agency' involved.

Doesn't help when you realise that the English language media is almost as clueless as the Hindi Tv channels. My maid who fills me in with details every evening tells me incredulous stories - 'Asmaan Mein Pari' (A girl skydives and that is a story!) 'Chamatkaar' (the Sadhu to can sleep while floating - whats the big deal). I mean, what would the Hindi channels do now that the folks at 18-land want to make a no-holds barred desi version of Fear Factor on Colors! You know, incredible stunts and insect eating - and what would happen to the barely literate people who run such channels if they ever accidentally saw AXN's crazier shows!

But, I also want to know which was the 'agency' which filed the story first?