Friday, August 29, 2008

BRT fans!

If you read this blog carefully - which BRT fans don't - you willsee that I have no issues with a well-executed public transportation project. The Bus Rapid Transit system is a disasterously executed project. In Bogota, the example quoted by the crackpot Dinesh Mohan and his cronies, road traffic has four lanes in each direction and instead of stopping traffic every 500 meters, there are overhead walkways. top defending bad execution, that is a problem in India, the BRT is a badly executed idea, and why on earth should I not be a NIMBY - are you impacted by the project? Well I am and while I'm not some crackpot who would like to censor criticism like Dinesh Mohan and Sunita Narain (the loony left is worse than the loony right and Greenies are the most dangerous people in the world) the BRT is an awful example - look down at Joseph Tito Marg if you're flying into Delhi on runway 28 (that is the middle runway now) during working hours (at night the sight is scary to see the number of cars backed up) and then defend the BRT - and it isn't Bus Rapid Transit anymore - it is Babu Rapid Transit - just look at the number of government Ambassadors taking the quick and easy route. BRT defenders have not calculated the cost of either fuel or time wasted waiting at innumerable red lights on the BRT. Want to chop India's fuel bill - chop the BRT.
And as for EchTee - The Mumbai music ban fiasco was wonderful. But I'll give them a while to sort things out, its only fair, no?

Eastward Ho!

There was a time that I never expected to travel much east of Delhi on work, and while over the past five years several trips have been made to Hong Kong and China, going east of Delhi inside India meant travelling to Uttar Pradesh. But in the past two weeks I've managed to find myself in Calcutta twice (once for family-related stuff) and I just got back from Bhubaneshwar. Of course, this didn't involve a Airport-Hotel-Conference-Hotel-Airport trip but a dictat from HQ to travel to the back of beyond and meet some really unsavoury chaps. And I had a blast. And far too many prawns when I should be trying desperately to lose weight - I've even started hitting the treadmill. Surprisingly, I reached Bhubaneshwar the day after the Bandh and got a distinct feeling that few urbanised parts and most coastal belts of the state have swung quite a way to religious nationalism, and that is evident at the scale of the protests there. But I wasn't there to cover the riots, so I won't get into that.
More later...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Great Moments in Sports Commenatry II

While Doordarshan's coverage of the Olympic Games in Beijing has bordered on the rather wide line between ridiculous and abysmal, some of the foriegn feeds they have been running have mad commentators. This must the same block from who used this classic line.
"The Cuban has less chance now than a female groupie at an Elton John concert."
The line was used in the match between Somjit Jongjohar of Thailand and Andris Laffita Harnandez of Cuba for the gold medal in the Flyweight category. Both lines have been distinctly homophobic and politically incorrect, but hilarious.
Unlike DD's coverage. I wonder why the papers obsessing about their sometimes silly coverage from Beijing haven't climbed onto DD's horrible, horrible commentary and habit of cutting out at crucial moments - just look at the Men's Gold hockey match.
I understand DD News has to toe the government line and talk about how good everything is in this country and pretend everyone is on a dose of MDMA, but for crying out loud? If Doordarshan can mess up an event where it received decently good feeds from the host broadcaster, can you imagine what is going to happen when the much-ballyhooed Commonwealth Games hit Delhi in 2010 and DD is the host broadcaster?
Moving on and talking of the Commonwealth Games we come to that crackpot Dinesh Mohan's pet BRT project. The guy has using Sunita Narain as a proxy written to the Editor's Guild of India. Now this bunch of old and ineffectual people (and I'm calling a spade a spade) has claimed the media has been 'unfair' about the BRT. Evidently nobody has seen the horible botched crisis that is the BRT because they don't live anywhere near it and India International Centre isn't close by.
Trust me, I have nothing against public transport and I would love dearly for Delhi to get a proper transport system. The Metro system is rapidly picking up steam, so much so that travelling on the system has gone from being a pleasure to being worse than going by bus. But I still use and top up my Metro card, because the system works.
The BRT is a horribly executed project which was made worse in the monsoon thanks to the total lack of planning, even for drainage and I will still hold Dinesh Mohan and his team of asswipes from IIT-Delhi responsible for screwing up traffic patterns in South Delhi. Yes, bus travel has become easier, but the bus network isn't a viable method of travel just yet because there are far too few buses and for most people the commute is longer. There are also no 'Park and Ride' car-parks. Plan a system properly and it will succeed. The BRT is still a decent idea, and I do not believe people are flaying the idea but just the execution of the idea. And instead of attacking the media accept that there have been mistakes made and recover the project, because the media will keep flaying the project (and you can't blame them, because their readership hates the project - you write what your readers want, don't you?) unless you admit that you screwed up.
The Editors Guild is making the same mistake most reporters make, commenting on something without experiencing it, much like most reporters in Singur, but that is another post for another day. Anyway, sorry for the rant, and I'm travelling again tomorrow, so apologise in advance for the slow down in posts.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The iPhone is far too expensive methinks. Me also thinks that all the wrong old fogeys will be using the Jesus phone, so will steer clear until given one. Plus if I did have 30k to spend on an impulse purchase I'ld buy a weekend trip to Bangkok. Oh well!

PS: Will wait to read the gushing reviews on TV.


The problem with comment moderation is that sometimes you inadvertently end up deleting comments. Sorry Sandip (I just saw your email), you double-posted the same comment and I end up deleting both and I one anonymous one also. Yikes!
Anyway, the jist is simple - while many Indians will never accept the idea of giving up Kashmir, maybe even half a century from now, and the argument will be used that so much blood has been spilled that we can't give it up. But starting with trifurcation of the state while in Indian control, done in a manner that the rivers keep flowing through Ladakh can be a start. Getting rid of the National Conference and the PDP can be step two (or step one). I'm thinking of the problem as a body part afflicted by frostbite, if you don't amputate it the pain is unbearable and you could die of gangarene. Sir Ranulph Fiennes is no less of an explorer because he misses the tops of the digits on his left hand is he.
Of course, there is the other solution - that is waiting for Pakistan to disintegrate, which without Mushy it just might. Imagine if we got Sindh back, our national anthem would sound complete again.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Things that we should talk about.

Talking about debates, we still cherish it right? So I guess somebody should do a rational post on all these treaty deals. Some in the management think that some blogs and journalists don’t get it, myself included and some in the media fraternity thing that private treaties of any sort are ‘evil’, period. Over the past week or so, I’ve been trying to come to a sort of mean position on the deals, because like it or not they are reality today, and will be reality tomorrow, and journalists will not be able to wish them away. That said, some of the issues that have risen up in various media groups have been because of bluster – as was evident at Medianama – or possibly because management and journalists can’t seem to draw a line at what is what.
Some people in management in virtually every media company think that some journalists don’t get the idea of a business, that is to make money. Some journalists don’t think that managers get an idea of the news. But, having worked as a journalist for over seven years and having dealt with managers and journalists of all colours I’m surprised at the level of animosity that sometimes exists between the two groups. Very often they work at cross-purposes even though ostensibly they work for the some organisation. Much of that is because neither quite gets the other’s job or role. Some journalists are better than others and it is the same with managers, there are some I work for who aren’t bad in some areas (though can’t get others) and there have been absolute blunderbusses I have seen also.
While most managers deal with the editors, there is often no attempt, in any media group to let journalists at lower levels interact with their management. We are told ‘Editorial is sacred’, but apparently it isn’t and hasn’t been for a while. The better editors today are of two types according to me, realists and hyper-professionals. Again, I’ve worked for both types, and find myself, as usual, deliciously in the middle.
Back to the point, in the last few years or so salaries have gone through the roof in the media. People who were getting 30-40k a month are suddenly earning 200k a month, whether you think they deserve it or not. But ‘deserve’ or ‘not deserve’ is not my domain, and going there will open up a can of worms. Yes, there are some people whom I believe are extremely hard-working and yes, they do in certain cases deserve their money and yes, there are people who have risen to higher levels just by kissing the right asses.
But, at the end of the day, it isn’t just human resources costs that have risen in media groups, it is all costs. Heck, inflation affects everything and if you think oil prices have climbed, just look at newsprint. A32-page newspaper which spent Rs 8 producing a paper last year, is suddenly faced with an Rs 12 per paper. This has meant smaller papers, a skewing of the ad-edit ratio and other changes. But again, as the slowdown has kicked in and expensive paper stocks lie about, getting adverts has become tougher. You really wouldn’t want to be in ad-sales right now.
Sure, this might be a temporary phase and things might well get better once the country grows a collective brain and kicks out this government. I don’t believe we’ll end up with Mayawati as a Prime Minister, but that is venturing into the realm of politics and this is not a post about politics.
But, as usual, I digress. Even if the good times come back, the media is fragmenting tremendously. When Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister of India in 1984 and this country was invested with a new sense of hope, even a six-year old in Calcutta, we had one TV channel, and every city had its local paper. Only possibly The Economic Times was a ‘national paper’ and that was an eight-page rag back in those days according to those who worked there then. Yeah, the Times of India had a Delhi edition but Samir Jain was yet to start his inspired price game of the 1990’s which was to hurt Hindustan Times badly.
Those were slower days, journalists got subsidised housing and the fourth estate was generally seen as an instrument of the state and though Bofors changed that to an extent, the reforms of 1991 made media more than news and into a viable business proposition. And BCCL realised this before anyone else.
And here is the thing, there is a part of me which believes that what we are seeing in print is only a temporary upward ‘blip’ and despite the launch of several new magazines and papers, the widespread availability of access technologies such as 3G will change the way we consume media, if not in 2009, definitely by 2012. That is why made my pitch for integrated newsroom a short while ago, and again I think BCCL has realised this before any other media group.
Sure, the ‘integration’ process hasn’t exactly been smooth over there by all indications, but I have a sneaky feeling that maybe with ET-TV or whatever it is called they are on their way there. I’ve said before, BCCL is possibly the only group in the world which can pull off such a thing. OK, so I’m discounting News Corporation, but I’m not being a Times fanboy when I think BCCL can pull this off, they’ve not been successful so far, in fact, their websites suck big-time, but they’re getting there.
But, integration of various media resources is only one part of the story, the second part and this is a facet sometimes journalists tend to forget is one of making money. Advertising will get increasingly diffused by this dramatic change in media consumption patterns. And today while several TV channels claim that they have no more inventory to sell, so much so that some TV channels are showing more adverts than News, this is again a ‘blip’.
So how does someone secure revenues going forward? There are two answers. The first is subscription, which isn’t going to suddenly happen, not even on the internet. And the second is something different, which in this case is what we are all complaining about – private treaties. Sell some inventory today for a fixed sum aof money and secure revenues either in the form of exits or dividends in three-five-ten years time.
The idea of private treaties therefore is brilliant from a revenue point of view. The problem is that it is a ‘new’ thing and as usual, management and journalists are at loggerheads at several media groups, because what BCCL starts, everybody copies. Some journalists claim the sanctity of the news is in doubt thanks to private treaties and how can we trust what we read? But then again what is the name of this blog?
I don’t trust much of what I read, some stories in all newspapers, even that supposed virtue of paragon (right!) The Hindu are utter tripe. I usually like what I read in Mint, not much news, but usually nice stuff to while away time. Reuters, AP and the BBC aren’t selling out and the PTI despite making amazing attempts to murder English twice or thrice a day aren’t either and all that stuff comes onto my feedreader – Bloglines which I can access online or off my Nokia Nseries device. What else do I need?
Sure, every once in a while a newspaper article will be though provoking, as I mentioned in my last post, and I will scan the papers for them. But once I’m done with my number twos – where I scan the paper for something I’ve missed or something stupid, silly or vapid, which Reuters Odd News hasn’t yet picked up and laugh. Laughter helps with constipation, well it means that the face you make getting a turd out is better than usual.
But that is me, and back to the point of these private treaties deals. I think a lot of the trouble is because these are new and both ‘groups’ (and I call them groups) are pushing and pulling until they can work out some sort of compromise. I really believe, personally, that one way around could be a disclaimer – either in the form of a box somewhere in the paper (Something like: XXXXX the Private Equity arm of XXXXX, the parent company of this newspaper/magazine/website has a stake in the following companies mentioned in this newspaper). Try not to make it as small as the corrigendum box, maybe even bold. Some might think it is a waste of space but you get around ‘reader trust’ issues, something I don’t believe management usually takes seriously enough and something I believe journalists take too seriously.
Either that, or some kind of other middle ground, something will have to be found.
Anyway, these are just my two cents on the matter. Some of you might think I’m crazy for writing such a post, but then again, if people can bring up the fact of us giving up Kashmir, why can’t we talk about this?

The K-word

First, I'm sorry that I haven't been around the last couple of days, I was in Calcutta on some personal stuff. That city never ceases to amaze me, especially the fact that how eating and drinking out can be so much cheaper than the capital. Of course, what also doesn't cease to amaze me that in today's day and age, a general strike can only cripple one city in India - Calcutta. Am I the only one to think the cricket match is not quite co-incidental?
Moving on...
Two articles by two quite different writers this Sunday, in two generally pro-establishment papers has set the cat among the pigeons when it comes to Kashmir - Swami and The V have compelling and disturbingly similar arguments. Here is the strange thing, as far as media reportage goes, we know that the most mainstream English news channels (with the exception of Times Now) are fairly lenient towards the Kashmiri Muslims, and the exact opposite is true for most mainstream Hindi channels.
Both the writers make one crucial point, why on earth should the Indian state spend thousands of crores of rupees propping up the state? Left unsaid was the bit about the money going into the coffers of the Abdullah's, who I'm quite sure will seek asylum in India (Farooq's fate in an 'independent' Srinagar might be the same as Mussolini) and continue to milk the country. However, I think missed the the point about water. All the rivers that flow into Pakistan flow through Kashmir, and that is essentially why Pakistan wants Kashmir and why we won't give it up. Or so I think, and I'm no genius at geo-politics.
But even some people in the right now believe the situation will soon start to mirror Palestine, sure Israel has kept the West Bank under its thumb, but at what cost. India has more than enough souls to spare, but both writers ask whether it is worth keeping the Indian establishment locked in Kashmir forever?
Now, such thoughts will rankle the nationalistic feelings of almost everybody who read it, "Over my Dead B", people will scream. My civics teacher in high school, who never let us forget that she lost her husband in the 1962-War particularly once when I had the 'temerity' to suggest that we should delete Askai Chin off our maps - it isn't as if China will give it back. To even agree to the suggestion of these two quite different, yet extremely capable writers would be social hara-kiri for some, but in a weird sort of way, and I don't think this was planned, (some suspect it was) it is good that we are having this debate. Some think the arguments are petulant, but if Kosovo can gain independence (despite having nothing in the form of resources other than EU aid) why can't a part of the world blessed with a nice. Sure, separate Ladakh and Jammu, but democracy has brought us here. I still think the Kashmiri Muslims are mad to join a state that might break up itself very soon - honestly, I think Pakistan is on the verge of collapse.
It won't happen, I know that and you know that, for another 50 years at least, by which time, Swami and The V will be long gone and I will be on the verge of going as well. It will be political heresy to even suggest it, but the very fact that we are writing about it in the most mainstream of mainstream papers, something I'm sure the Kashmiri leadership will not allow (imagine a Kashmiri Muslim leader who doesn't swindle money from India writing that 'We should stay with India' - won't happen even if they believe it in their heart of hearts) is good. Sure, some might be cynical and claim that these articles were meant to provoke controversy, but I don't see why that is a cynical opinion. They clearly were, and aren't we a democracy - sure, we have awful leaders, but aren't we a democracy where debate is hopefully still a cherished thing.
Sure, there is a bit of the ultra-nationalistic Indian in me thinks that Swami and The V are treasonous, and after a few drinks too many when all rational sense goes out the window, I'm sure I might even find myself agreeing that 'things' should be done to them. But, stone-cold sober, I think The V's article wasn't his best-written one, and nor was Swami's, purely from a writing point-of-view, but both raised a question that we will have to answer someday.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Nice article

On Wednesday, on my flight back from Calcutta I read a great piece in the WSJ section of Mint. After Michael Phelps seventh medal today, the article helps you understand a facet of swimming most casual observers would not know. It seems like we have a decent chance in boxing thanks to the Bhiwani brigade. And I still maintain that Doordarshan Sports needs serious help, their quality of programming during the Olympics has been dismal. This is not the 1980's anymore, then again jumps into modernity - a la Balaji Telefilms' insane view of the Mahabharat are not exactly recommended viewing either. I mean that serial is like Gurgaon Modern architectecture (something that DLF seems intent on spreading across the country - I saw some DLF monstrosity at Rajarhat in Calcutta) - and so much for DLF construction standards.
It appears that the I&B Ministry has issued a notice to MTV's Splitsvilla for deginrating women and IBN7 for spreading rumours of religious events. Weirdly enough, and I'm no prude when it comes to things, Splitsvilla is an awful show, but then again, PRDM is a prude and I was curious to see how long MTV could get away by pushing the boundaries. s for IBN7, well, that channel needs help, and if takes the I&B ministry to help them, so be it!

Great Moments in Sports Commentary

I heard this recently during one of the Olympic boxing bouts, I can't remember which one, but some Central Asian fighter was beating the crap out of some African guy...

"He has more chance of picking up K.D Lang in a bar than he has of winning this bout."


That said, DD Sports has had the most abysmal coverage of the Olympics. They cut out whenever they please, have idiotic hosts and graphics from the 1980's. I know they are the public broadcaster and each millions of homes, but for crying out loud! And those NREGS ads... Ugh!

Friday, August 15, 2008


I should really stop trying to find new and innovative ways to torture my body and soul. I don't have a banger of a hangover, but I'm rather lucky that I stopped after one Cognac. Nothing that a Double Espresso cannot cure, but since I'm saro-ing in office right now and thanks to silly land deals, the cloests Barista is more than ten minutes drive away, the headache is only going to get worse. So large amounts of hydration is the only solution for now.
Oh, I would have said Happy Independence Day, but I'm still trying to come to grips with what it all really means. Well, the brain is still a bit too foggy!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yes, I should proof-read blog posts too

I proof my stories before I fire them off, and I should start taking equal care with my blog posts. But I will not edit the last post and will keep the comments as a reminder to myself of my tardiness. I apologise for that, but I've always written posts in a sort of 'stream of consciousness'. Yesterday I fired off the post in ten minutes and I didn't bother to read it even once.
Yes, I speak Bangla and I am Bengali, even my mother who reads this blog (thankfully only occasionally) decided to point that out to me, and the worst thing was that these were not mistakes of ignorance, they were mistakes of laziness. And laziness is worse than ignorance.

Again, I apologise for the rushed, grammatically horrible post. As a writer, one who writes for a living, these are bad mistakes to make. I know that this blog has a life of its own but I should start taking it a bit more seriously, which is why I've added all the comments about the last post.

I'm posting a couple of pictures along with the post, I should have added these yesterday but I didn't have a micro-USB cable with me in Calcutta. The pictures were clicked on a Nokia N78, so the quality isn't DSLR level, but they aren't half-bad either I believe. Until the story gets printed, I can't quite say where they were clicked - I had disabled the location tagging software on the device as well. Or so I think. OK, the only hint that I will give, and good Bongs might work out where I was, is that I ended my day in Tarakeshwar.
More about gossip and all later, including how horribly petty some senior journalists can be, a rampant drug-abuse problem among journalists particularly in one city, in which I also played a role recently, but which has existed for years. And more, as always send in your comments, even the really nasty ones (I won't publish those, but still I need to get worked up sometimes) and you can always email me, the address is on the right bar. To add this blog to your feed-reader, click this link. Take care guys and remember to buy your booze tonight if you live in India.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I'm writing this from Calcutta, the city I was born in and a city I'm visiting after two years. I haven't had much reason to come back here, but yesterday when I was driving through the heart of the Gangetic delta in southern Bengal, a place from where I can trace my roots from both sides of my family, I felt a weird sense of hollowness. I'm a fourth-generation city dweller from both my parents sides, and while driving through the lush freshly-planted paddy fields down the fantastic new Durgapur Expressway, the final-part of the North-to-East stretch of the Golden Quadrilateral, I saw things that should have been natural to someone from my families a century ago. You can't really picture a nicer pastoral scene than the stuff I saw yesterday. And then I saw Calcutta.
You know, I sometimes wonder why Bengali's who have moved out of the city have this massive fascination for the city, a weird sense of romanticism also, and I know that if I say something to the contrary I will be crucified by a whole host of senior editors and Delhi-baiters. Calcutta is an unique city, it is possibly India's only major city that is linked definately to one culture - Bangla. There is no other community in India which is so strangly linked to one city as Benaglis are - strange considering the city is a fairly young city in the scheme of things, particularly by Indian standards. I guess that might be because there has been so little inward migration into the city from elsewhere in the country, outward migration on the other hand has meant that Calcutta's (or Kolkata if you please) has lost its best and brightest for over half a century.
The reason I'm carrying on about this is because after my grandmother's death my father and I discussed the fate of the house in Calcutta, and while we haven't come to a final decision, it seems increasingly likely that the house where I spent three years of my life will possibly be sold off. I'm proud of being Bangla, not for the reasons some often say they are proud of being Bangla, and yes Bongs are irritating parochialists, my Bangla has improved manifold ever since I started journalism, it is still 'probashi' Bangla and understanding villagers was an issue yesterday (god, colloqualial rural Bong is insane), but I would say that my Bangla isn't half-bad. Its just that I do feel this strange attachment to this city, and selling the house would not be as traumatic as cutting the umbilical cord, and I can't quite make the perfect analogy over here, but you know it will be as if something will be missing.
Anyway, I am feeling awfully sentimental about Calcutta this time, but something tells me that I will be glad to get out of here tonight. I am coming back in a few days, making it twice in under a week, very strange considering I haven't been here two years.

Monday, August 11, 2008


First, my apologies for disappearing without a trace. There was a death in the family and I used it as an excuse not to check my email for a few days and only filed what I had to file. I'm off to Calcutta today evening on a work related trip, the first time I'm going that side of teh world on work. The last few times I've been to Calcutta it has always been related to births, weddings and funerals. And not surprisingly I'm off to Calcutta again next week again - for death related purposes. Then again, like most second-gen 'probashi' Bongs I don't have much to go back for. My father is talking about selling the house I grew up in, most of my cousins are anywhere but Calcutta and those who aren't married to Calcutta want to leave.
Anyway, enough of that...
Abhinav Bindra's Gold was a pleasant surprise and despite DD screwing up most of the Olympic broadcast (cutting out at crucial times - yesterday's Basketball game for example) and me getting sick of the Ministry of Rural Development's adverts, they got Abhinav's competition bang-on. In fact, even the DD commentators were building the country up for failure talking of the Olympic spirit and how 'commendable' it was that we are taking part. The philosophy of it not being important to win. Bindra hopefully will change all that and if I were you I would not go to Delhi airport on the 14th, when Bindra returns, it will be the biggest jamboree ever.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Thanks.. but...

I'm not stopping writing, my bosses think I've been too vella of late, so I'm going to get inundated with a lot of work soon. Anyway, there is also the question of what I wish to do now. Anyway, so apologies for slowing things down over the next couple of days, but then again whenever I do get some free time I will write something or the other.
PS: Does the BJP actually have a copy of 'the tape'?

Monday, August 04, 2008


"You are making yourself unemployable in the profession..." a concerned senior told me recently.
I had never thought of that really, you know. Until today. I guess there are those who can and will use some of the stuff I've mentioned on this blog against me, even if it is true. There are guys who will say that, "K is evil", or other crap like that. Managers who strike ridiculous deals and hope to keep them behind closed doors will say that I am a liability (because I write too much)not realising how much damage they themselves have done. They believe that readers should not know about crazy deals where editorial space is sold. The reputation of the media is being dragged through the mud and the entire industry is becoming a giant billboard, but don't question it.
See, if I do move along in my career, which I well might be or might not be doing anytime soon (depending of course, on this silly issue of employability), this blog will suffer as a result. I might be asked to stop writing here as a condition of employment, or I could be asked to start writing a proper signed blog. But, you know something, I really haven't ever cared too much about ruffling feathers, because feathers need to be ruffled every once in a while and people should question what we have become as a profession. Yeah, sure some people can get upset that I called some plan of theirs beserk, but this is the internet, buddy, get used to it. Rather me than some other half-wit somewhere else.
Yes I know some people are too scared to do their own thing and some people will never like me no matter what because I might have muttered something about their hygiene or lack of it at some time or another. And must you really be scared about a job. Must you really say that you will never question anything because you want to become a mindless drone writing the same old shit day in and day out. That isn't me, never been interested in doing that. I've never worked for the money, though I must admit in a position where I'm getting a lot of it, money is nice. I've got a fairly decent reputation beyond the blog, and yes, I'll admit I'm a bit lazy, but c'mon, who isn't? I am more than employable when it comes to knowing about stuff, more employable than most. Sure, I run a fairly popular blog, but should it matter? Then again, would I hire me? Maybe if I worked a bit harder, I would.
Will Presstalk die if I move along? It well might, but something will take its place, that much I can promise you. And don't worry, any which way, nothing is dying out anytime soon. As I said, this is the internet silly, get used to it!

Uncle M goes away...

When Uncle M went in to meet the Nuclear Deal Maker - Grandfather M a.k.a Manmohan, he 'politely' requested the Prime Minister to increase FDI across all forms of media to 49 per cent. That would be TV news, print news, DTH, radio et al. Uncle M argued that it was a necessity to do such a thing, and if implemented money would flow into all forms of media across the country strengthening media in the country, and positively impacting salaries.
Grandfather M passively listened and then spoke, for once, "Mr Murdoch for you it might be a necessity, but for me it is a compulsion not to." Well, so much for rising salaries! This battle between certain media houses in the country on both sides of the FDI battle is not over yet. The argument given that foreign money will dilute the 'integrity' of the news is a fallacious one. After all, hasn't news already started to plumb the depths of depravity already. How much lower can we go?
Now, Uncle M travelled from Delhi to Pune where he met up with Abhijit Pawar, whose Sakaal Times might be floundering, but he is definiately launching a Marathi news channel, Shaam TV. Now, Uncle M is supposedly making an investment into this channel - getting a 26% stake for around $15-20 million. Uncle M might also buy into a few other regional groups - but nothing concrete when it comes to bigger groups - even though the offhand remark on this blog that he might look at BCCL has supposedly become the gospel truth according to some stories. Uncle M met them, he ain't buying them out - he can't - FDI norms prevent that.
After Pune, Uncle M travelled to Mumbai where a comprehensive review of all Star India businesses was made - even Channel V. Uncle M is surprised that Star India has not been able to tranlate Channel V's success across the rest of Asis into anything concrete in India. Heck, the one channel that INX is rising on is their music channel 9Xm - even though they are paying ridiculous carriage fees for that. I'll even contend that Channel V has some decent shows even, but somehow loves it to MTV when it comes to the hype.
Anyway, this is not the last you have heard of Uncle M. Even though election year compulsions may not allow Grandfather M to allow 49% FDI, Uncle M also met the opposition. He is expected to fight for 49% again.
Plus, while MDA's trip to Delhi last month to meet the Prime Minister and Mrs G was covered, what wasn't covered was his visit the very next day where he supped with Murli Deora. Amar Singh was supposedly not happy about this but given the man's penchant for using the speakerphone, this line was overheard by a journalist recently, "Arre Murliji, hum toh yahin chahte hai ki ek saath khana khaye."
Oh well...

Saturday, August 02, 2008


I took my mother's car to work today and suddenly discovered that I had an old CD lying about in her car - Absolute Rock Ballads from 1999! So I travelled the entire way, including the insane traffic jam through GK thanks to Shiela aunty, listening to songs I had not heard in years. Poison, Extreme, Queen - this was like a bad retro festival. But strangely enough, it felt nice. Like comfort music, even.
About the BJP ban on CNN-IBN I happened to meet the closest thing that channel has to a chaddiwallah (who happens to be a close friend) at another friend's birthday party last night. He believes that the channel and the BJP will kiss and make up soon enough. Once Arun Jaitley calms down a bit. Surprisingly, Jaitley has been in a vicious mood of late. But, I am not that optimistic, while personal relationships in certain cases go beyond the channel, there are politicians in this country who nuture grudges. At least two people have told me that Raghav should pray that the NDA doesn't come into power in 2009.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Blog management.

I have decided in a fit of utter boredom that I will henceforth change the 'Blog Description' of this blog everyday. Possibly that will keep all the junior and middle management busybodies in large media firms whose pathetic little read far too much into this blog (or far too little since they can't process it).
Thank you, AS of L-2 for introducing me to that lovely book while back in college. And while Christian Bale has done a decent job as the Dark Knight, he just couldn't pull off PB.

News from the floor...

"What is Andy Mukherjee doing in our building?" a friend from 7 BSZ Marg just asked me. So I decided to ask someone at a rival media group. This person informed me that Andy did lunch with a couple of ET honcho's and as a result might join up ET-TV. Nothing is confirmed as yet, but something is up.

100 Billion...

You know how European clubs have super-expensive buyout clauses on footballers - like Manchester United has their 80 million pound buyout clause for the over-hyped CR. Well, in the light of my speculative post that Uncle M could look at buying BCCL, someone called up to say that even he won't be able to afford it. Rumours are rife on the markets that when the stock markets return back to their growth phase (if they do) that BCCL will list. A few months ago, I said that BCCL could look at a $12 billion valuation. But guess what, people are already talking of an absolutely insane valuation of $100 billion for BCCL. Yes, that is ONE HUNDRED BILLION USD. And I'm not smoking anything. No really, this number has been bandied about.
Just to give some sense of perspective, Google, the undisputed 800-pound gorilla of the internet is worth $150 billion. Uncle M's News Corporation is worth something like $37 billion. As much as I respect Samir Jain for changing the face of the media in India, waking it up from its slumber in the 1980's and modernising it (and just like I think that Times will still probably do the best and most balanced implementation of Private Treaties deals compared to the others copying them), this valuation does seem a bit crazy, and I can't buy into it. Not with poor integration, an extremely poor web presence. But... if this is being looked at from the light of 2010, a $50 billion plus valuation might just be possible. Uncle M better watch out!