Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Promises, promises...

In 1998, Vinod Khanna, one of our army of filmstar-politicians promised to turn Gurdaspur into Paris. Now, this was, to state the obvious, rather impossible. I mean, centuries of French culture and their habit to sulk when things don't go their way (epitomised by their President) into a place which isn't half bad and still sends most of their sons to the 'real' Paris. In 2004, I spent a few days in Paris during an extended summer break. I stayed with an old friend from school and remember going down to the Eiffel Tower like good tourists and right next to the tower I met and chatted with the guys selling overpriced trinkets who all happened to be from Gurdaspur. Well, I guess they got frustrated and left. Of course, Khanna has been moderately successful in politics much like his sons have been moderately successful in films. Unlike Govinda of course, who like any fading filmstar is blaming others for his problems - I doubt that includes his abysmal turnout in the Lok Sabha and according to the Delhi grapevine the pretty literal threats that were made to get him to show up for the nuclear vote.
But I don't know how I missed this. maybe because the 'evil' Ratan Tata stole all her thunder by releasing the Nano the very same day. But Mamata plans to make Kolkata into London! I really don't know what to say to this other than to request Mamata to pass me some of the stuff she has been smoking. I know that London is home to thousands of loony lefties and the Maoists in the southern districts of Bengal are extremely violent loony lefties, but other than that I doubt the former capital of Britain's crown jewel can match the motherland. Though that said, Dum Dum airport is a lot smoother than Heathrow, but then again it handles maybe one percent of Heathrow's traffic.
As they say, promises are promises and people can't take you to court when you don't deliver. Then again, maybe Mamata, a Ph.D (supposedly - though she makes no such claims in her 2004 affadavit) knows something about plate tectonics that hours of watching Discovery Channel and Nat Geo TV don't tell you. Maybe Kolkata is heading to London througha giant worm-hole through the Earth's crust. Anyhow, I don't see anything happening in bengal for a while, but then again, the most hare-brained scheme in Bengal right now is the Durgapur Aeropolis (which mind you, is still a promise). Because, depite everything the Commies might win a lot of seats, but weirdly enough they are the worse of two evils. The Bengal Commies that is, not the Kerala Commies, but I'm opinionating too much - so see what Great Bong makes of Didi's latest pronouncements - I, by the way, will start calling Mamata 'Mashima' - the same as I called the lady under Dhakuria flyover who used to sell some really nice weed back in the day (I was young and impressionable - so there).
PS: If you have the time, read this brilliant article by Matt Tiabbi on the financial crisis. And if you want to subscribe to this blog on a feedreader either on your mail client or Google Reader, click this link please.

Connecting the dots...

But first, kudos to the Supreme Court for standing up for 'true' secularism rather than the Muslim-pandering that typifies those like the CPI(M) who want to keep communal forces out. I mean even The Hindu editorial team disapproves. I don't condone Varun Gandhi's statements, but the fact remains that his statements have found an eerie resonance outside the 'liberal' classes. Why?
I think the Muslim minority in India is being badly let down by its leaders, voting en masse as a religious block rather than for those who want to help them progress. And the attacks, even those not inside our borders are beginning to scare people shitless. Yesterday's attack happened 12 kilometeres from our international border (and I'm scared that it isn't a question of 'if' another attack happens in India but 'when', and honestly dying for someone elses twisted political cause is not how I want to go), and when 'Too-scared to run for Election' Singh meets 'God' (a.k.a #44 Barack H.Obama) they won't be discussing the economy and outsourcing and why the Indian government should pitch in to save General Motors India (fantastic PR plant one must admit to PTI, no questions at all about how they're sinking), which is flailing about pretty much as badly as the parent company. Nope. They'll be discussing Af-Pak and the fact that India is sitting down right next to a powderkeg.
Now back to the 'dots' thing I mentioned. Remember as a kid sometimes you never followed the numbers in sequence when connecting the dots just to see what happened? Well I did. Yes, I was a twisted kid. Now, yesterday's post spoke of the editorial and marketing tie-up between Mint and CNBC-TV18. Now, and this I must clarify is complete speculation and I could be totally off the ball here, but what if this signifies the first baby steps towards Raghav Behl's acquisition of Mint?
Think about it, RB is deperate to build a print empire, his acqusition of Infomedia prove that. Many of those publications are floundering and delays in the launch of Forbes India make ET Now's delays seem ordinary. Now, RB failed with the FT India launch and Mint could well lose the WSJ tie-up because WSJ wants to launch a facsimilie in India. Now, what if, TV18 takes over Mint, obviously there will be jostling over the price and all that, but think about it for a second? See, HT Media's results will show that Mint is a bottomless money pit and despite getting rid of several high-profile, high-cost and lazy people, Mint still bleeds far too much money. Worse still, while Mint does fantastic features, as a 'News'paper it is falling further and further behind. RB buys Mint, HT Media manages to make some money or at least save face, RB can position CNBC's agenda and the FT content into Mint which has a ready-made brand. Win-win for everybody.
Just my two paise here, and I could be skipping far too many dots, but I have been thinking about this possibility. Anyway, I have a lot of work over the coming few days, so there might be fewer posts than usual. Have a great week, and did anyone catch the Australian Grand Prix, what a race!

Monday, March 30, 2009


This news item seems interesting, in fact it is really quite interesting given dynamics in business television and dailies with the entry of ET Now in a few weeks (months?). While the valuation demands are a bit on the insane side, The Economic Times still breaks a lot of stories and ET Now will be seen as major competition to CNBC-TV18.
At the end of the day, according to ratings, and ratings do matter no matter what people say about 'prestige' and all, Times Now is the leading English news channel in India. They have in a few years pretty much overhauled more established channels with more experienced reporters. That is not to say that there are no issues there, but they've done it and one reason was that CNN-IBN and NDTV concentrated far too much on each other allowing these guys to quietly storm past. Now, with CNBC-TV18 taking ET Now's threat a lot more seriously and the fact that when it coimes to 'first' at least with post-result interviews, CNBC is a tough act to beat, it should be interesting. The only problem is the timing and the slippage of the launch date.
The tie-up also will serve Mint in good stead hopefully given that their news reportage has been slipping of late, in fact in certain beats they seem to be almost non-existant. I do not know what an 'editorial and marketing' deal entails, but given CNN-IBN's and Hindustan Times' closeness (the two organisations constantly co-operate on things like 'Indian of the Year', all sorts of Polls - expect a pro-Congress opinion poll shortly, and I don't know that there is a poll but if there is it has to be pro-Congress) this deal is not surprising. It seems the best way to deal with the Times of India Group behemoth is to tie-up. Or let the giant trip itself up, which it seems the rather controversial Private Treaties organisation seems to have done. After all the hullaballo of a year ago, the silence now speaks volumes.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


You know watching qualifying got me thinking, sometimes the old geezers can just rise to the top of the pile thanks to a helpful last minute intervention. Of copurse, that does not signify anything either about Indian politics - because we aren't quite sure which old geezer we're talking about at any given point of time - the weak-hearted debate avoider or 'that one' who people still blame for bringing down a defunct archeological monument (the Wiki entry has apparently been written by people who love Mail Today). Talking about debate avoidance, Anand Sharma's quip that there is 'no tradition' of televised debates is classic Congress spin, there is no history because we have just about become a televised nation. But of course, just about everything uis spin. Which is why once the IPL gets underway I will be spared of spin. I have a choice between Ajay Maken and Vijay Goel in the New Delhi constituency and will probably see what either of them has to offer me. At the end of the day, the one who gets more people in the slums drunk will win, but then again there is a long time to go before I get to vote. I wonder if the local telly channels will broadcast a debate between the two candidates for India's 'most powerful' constituency.
PS: The pictures of Advani on the BJP posters is really bizzare, I'm sure the BJP could have used a better photographer.
PPS: Talking about the media, the leak of Times' TV projections makes me wonder if people are still drinking crazy juice out there. Many of the ventures over the past few years are flailing about unable to draw in revenues, yet the craziness persists.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Here comes F1!

After reading the reports coming from Albert Park in Melbourne it appears that the Ferrari-McLaren-BMW troika might be whacked by the smaller teams, including one that really didn't know that would take part until a few weeks ago. I know this post has nothing to do with the media but I've been watching Formula 1 since 1995 when Star Sports started airing it and I really do love it. I have a new new big-ass LCD telly, and I've bought a few cases of Carlsberg (and I know that means that I am indirectly funding Rafa Benitez' attempt to buy David Villa - I'm on a sports trip right now, aren't I?) to begin the season. Good fun coming up!
PS: Discovered that Mail Today has a print run of 1.32 lakh, quite impressive numbers for a paper that is a couple of years old!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Media Layoff Watch

The silent layoffs are over, the big boys have begun laying off employees. In the hundreds. Last night UndieTV laid off 114 people - mostly from the defunct MetroNation Delhi channel (that said, their tie-up with the Kasturi's for MetroNation Chennai goes on apace) but there were some lay-offs from 24x7 and India as well. At Times Of India, following the depressing 30 per cent pay cuts which has several employees rather pissed off (whenever I meet a Times reporter at a Presser all they can do is bitch out their employer - so much for employee satisfaction) they have also been layoffs - 87 people across the country have been let go. Of course, there are still lack of mad people at Times though, because according to this post they want to sell a stake in their Broadcast operation valuing at $200 million. Which is a lot more than the other, much larger networks, are worth. Just to see Arnab screaming and shouting and being put in his place by various Pakistani journalists.
This is the start of the high profile editorial lay-offs, hudreds of people in ad sales and marketing functions across channels have been laid off over the past few months as well. If you have any news about lay-offs or were laid-off yourself email me at presstalk (at) gmail (dot) com or just leave a comment. That said, I will not publish libellous or derogatory comments. If you feel treated unfairly, you are a journalist so you should be able to put it into words properly.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Random IPL Rant

Just thought that I would climb on the IPL bandwagon as well. You know, it is the same crazy logic I had when I started smoking - everyone is doing it! By the way, if Ramadoss freaked out about smoking in movies (particularly SRK in Devdas), I wonder what he would say about Abhay Deol's extreme substance abuse in Dev. D? Smoke for thought...
Here is the funny thing, I never thought that the news channels would give the IPL so much support. When Chidambaram started his disasterous attempt to dovetail the Gujarat riots into the IPL yesterday he got a lot of flak from journalists.
And the flak seems to have been counter-productive, Arun Jaitley who was for several days behaving like a petulant schoolboy stirred. You can say a lot of things about Jaitley, but not about cricket. Despite the chaos that rules the DDCA – Delhi today has three permanent members of the Test team and when Virat Kohli makes it there, which hopefully should be sooner rather than later given the kid’s stunning form this domestic season – Delhi players will dominate the Indian team.
Not a Bombay-esque domination that happened in the 60’s and 70’s and that started the quota system, but domination nonetheless. And Jaitley has had a role to play, maybe not training wise but definitely a political role in getting these Delhi boys into the team (and Sehwag and Gambhir have spoken about this in the past, Sehwag even got married at Jaitley's house - love him or hate him, without Jaitley India might not have the best opening partnership in the world right now), and as events of the past few weeks have brought out in the spotlight, cricket is political. Very political and it has been like that since Jagmohan Dalmiya came into the picture. As are other Indian sports, but that is another story. But to be fair, the increased politicisation of cricket has happily coinciced with the team doing a hell of a lot better but still.
Back to my convoluted logic on how the television channels dug their own grave supporting the IPL and making Chiddu look like a vindictive man, which he is, but that is a moot point. See, this is going to be a bad year for companies. We can all delude ourselves and pretend that things are going to improve soon or we could also delude ourselves into thinking that the bottom has fallen out. The only people journalists have actually succeeded in convincing that things are horrible are the guys who employ them and they have promptly cut salaries. In certain cases the owners were broke and in certain cases, not so broke (maybe even profitable) but the salary cuts might be hiding a deeper malaise which happened thanks to the shares for adverts business and the requirement to maintain a debt to equity ratio.
Now, as we all know the media in India is free. ‘Real’ prices of newspapers haven’t risen in years, almost all the money you pay to your newspaper-wallah goes to him. Now the same applies to telly channels. You don’t pay UndieTV for the privilege of watching them, heck people refuse to pay UndieTV for the privilege of watching their trying to be Good Times channel, which nowadays feels like watching a person in complete denial. Anyway, companies aren’t doing well. Usually because their managers screwed up and money laundering operations went awry because the bottom fell out of the Dubai Real Estate market as well. So that means smaller advertising budgets.
The no IPL brigade championed by Chiddu would have meant guys with ad budgets sanctioned would have been left with nowhere to advertise. Other than the news channels. Which would have meant that instead of a sponsored sixer or wicket, things like ‘This tantrum of Arnab is brought to you by XXXX or ‘This display of fake emotion by Barkha is sponsored by YYYY’. I mean we could have had something like that. Of course, both the people mentioned above don’t have a sense of humour, which is why they’ve been mentioned, but you get my point.
Now despite the IPL happening in South Africa, which will mean I will try my frikkin’ darndest to go snag an air ticket to watch some matches at least, the TV times remain the same. So we will not have to watch hysterical screaming, random editorialising or worst of all a litany of wrong facts every evening. Nope, I can watch Sehwag and Gambhir whack the ball every few days. Pity, I really did hope to watch a few games at Kotla.
But then again, as much as we love politics, we just love cricket more.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I was just watching Times Now, rather listening to Rahul Shivshankar screaming something about Kasab. And then he dropped a bombshell. He claimed that Priyanka Gandhi talking about Varun Gandhi's stupidity was the first inside the Gandhi family. Really? I am not quite that old, but because I was born into a political (journalist) household, I do remember that Arun Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi didn't quite get along. I mean, I remember snatches of the two men openly fighting. And they were cousins too. Nehru-Gandhi cousins, but same family right?
But this is Times Now's version of events, you know after the live broadcasts of commando's storming buildings we now figure out that they don't quite know history. maybe because screaming at researchers and chasing them away isn't a good thing, but at least they'll get some decent people from outside to do their election coverage. I'm losing interest in HT's plot to bore me out of my skull by sending an army of mainly novices all over the place. You know, the times when the older guys write, despite their biases, it somehow shines through.

Take a gun to my head

And pull the trigger. Between the politicisation of the IPL and the cricketisation of politics I feel generally underwhelmed. There is a lot of not so good real news going on across the world, real news other than Jade Goody's death. Flimsy excuses are being used to cut back on staff and salary cuts are really starting to hurt the little guys in the media. Things are getting so bad, that it seems whenever I end up at a gathering of journalists, young and old all talk about how horrible times are. And when things start going wrong, the amount of fingers that start being pointed are not funny - "I'm not useless, he is", or in certain places, "S/he is more useless than me" The sudden acrimony is leading to some fairly interesting plots all over the place. Will keep you posted on more and I promise to be more regular this week.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Real India

My point about 'Real India' is not that a cowshed in Amethi is not 'Real India'. No, it is quite real and quite India. My point is that Rahul-baba a la Sarah Palin's comments about 'real America' is missing the point. Rural folk might outnumber us by a factor of two to one, India is still an overwhelmingly rural country, though, the latest delimitation for the Lok Sabha does acknowledge the rise of urban areas.
My point is simple, there is no 'unreal' India - everything from the cocaine dens of South Bombay to the cowsheds in Amethi or elsewhere are quite real. I've seen reality, in fact I might have seen more reality than most urban, English journalists. My trip to Vidarbha is still one I can't quite forget, that was a particularly hard story, not as a story but dealing with the fact that what is going on is quite different from the perception that even we in the media pass on. It wasn't easy to deal with reality head-on, which is why I guess in India we like the fantasy that Bollywood and cricket delivers. But then again, that fantasy is also part of the real India.

PS: The Press Trust of India does an easy way of syndication of foreign news - essentially copy an article, give it some credit though. That said, isn't that what most foreign correpondents do? In fact, Chiddu and Saibal in ToI and Sutirtho in HT are leagues ahead of the usual crowd. The Hindu carries a lot of international news but sometimes making head or tails of what they're saying through their red-tinted glasses is nearly impossible. My two paise only, no wait my two rupees only, haven't seen a smaller denomination coin outside calcutta for a while.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In other news

Where, like some in the BJP I will pretend that Varun Gandhi did not shoot his mouth off like a 'psychopath' (in the words of one senior leader) - well Varun Gandhi does have a crazy gene set, so why was I not surprised. That said, as one person told me recently, this sort of vitriol comes from personal hurt and/or anger - a grievance against someone which manifests itself as anger against the community.
You know Hitler started this way, though I will not call VG close to being Hitler. But the kid, and he is a kid, should have known better than to shoot his mouth off - every fourth person in India owns a mobile with a videography device. This will be India's first sort-of internet election - broadband numbers have swelled since 2004 and shit like this will swim back and forth over fibre-optic cables. Well, I do have better things to download though. Of course, the media, at least the poorer bits of the English media will climb all over this and tactfully ignore the vitriol that gets preached every Friday and try to bully the majority into a sense of guilt. Instead of leaving the matter to the EC where it should be acted on. And it is being acted on.
But VG is the son of the man who did come very close to being India's 'Dear Leader'. Instead we will probably get his cousin Rahul Baba who will take world leaders in cowsheds in Amethi, tell them that they're in 'Real India', so that like with David Milliband - and while it feels painful to talk like this about an Arsenal supporter - is a complete twat. Next time, Rahul Baba, keep them in the cowshed - or keep them away from toilet paper for a day or so.
Anyway, the news I wanted to get to was UndieTV's extraordinary bid for the IPL rights.
Now, the background to the case is simple. BCCI/IPL issued a termination letter to WSG India which owned the broadcast rights for IPL and had sub-leased them to Sony. Sony rushed to the Bombay High Court, which has reserved its judgement. Now WSG Mauritius gave the IPL 30% more dosh for the telly rights - believed to be around $1.3 billion. OK, doesn't make sense at all, but makes even less sense when you consider that the 'samdhi' of a very rich Indian politician (who aspires to be PM) is a part-owner of SET. The SET fiasco has been going on for a while, the stopping of AXN a few years ago, makes a lot more sense now. This is a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face.
Back to the story, now before SET could go to court, WSG Mauritius called for telecast bids. Now it appears that UndieTV has bid $1.45 billion for the rights to broadcast the IPL. The irony of the bid doesn't have anything to do with the fact that the company is broke, the money for the bid is not coming from India. But this is a company, at least a sister company of a channel which chopped salaries 20% last week. Not as bad as the salary cuts at Bennett, which are in the 30% range, but more on that fiasco later.
Will UndieTV broadcast the IPL? Will cricket save the News? Will the cricket happen in the first place? Keep watching for more.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Snip, snip

For someone who just filled up an appraisal form with a lot of disdain - how on earth am I supposed to have several KRA's - this is bad news. Over at UndieTV, which some might argue is actually down to its chaddi's there have been some pretty serious salary cuts. At least that is better than a very big media baron asking 'Why?' about a extremely expensive forthcoming new venture. Another wannabe media baron thinking of pulling the plug on an about-to-be launched magazine and yet another fading baron(ness?) pulling the plug on her group's latestg misadventure like they did to a General Entertainment Channel and an integrated web portal. Of course, not before some of the top bosses in assorted media companies face the Guillotine. Times aren't good as they say, times just aren't good. Not as bad as America though. Also, I'm really surprised that Mint has toned down media coverage of late. Sad since they did it well, unlike most other industries. 


I've just not been my week, yes Arsenal just about beat Roma in the Champions League, trhanks to Julio Baptista playing the way he usually does. I've hardly slept in the last few days, and have survived on a diet of pure coffee and (yesterday at least) French Fries.
But we'll get to the French Fry bit later on, but surprisingly it was great fun. You know the bit about life being about experiences and doing a whole host of things before you die. Well, at the rate I'm going I have fairly impressive list of 'Things I really wonder why I did but don't really have a problem having in a stupid list' list. Hey, I've been to a radial tyre factory. Have you? Trust me, it isn't half as exciting as sitting on a beach supping on a freshly caught lobster with a nice glass of Pinot by your side.
But then again, I've been to a radial tyre factory. And factories and places where several everyday things are made and strange things happen. I've been inside the homes of guys who have killed themselves with pesticide so that their families can get government compensation. I've seen pits with thousands of dead chickens and I've eaten the most amazing food at some of the most ridiculously expensive places.
But sometimes I feel like I need to sleep. And right now at four in the afternoon, with my body screaming out loudly that it needs to sleep I want to go back to a nice comfortable bed. And snore. So please excuse this post. I don't think the bhang has totally come off as yet and my face is still pink. These mid-week festivals take a heavy toll.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

End of INX?

You know I did have plans to leave early today. Get stoned and go to sleep. But it seems that the INX war is over - the Mukerjea's have lost everything. Their reputation is in shreds. I wonder if the Audi TT that IM bought will remain with her. But the Bongs are having a hard time in Bombay it seems - first Kunal Dasgupta gets turfed out (and almost 50 people, all of Dasgupta's chelas have been booted out as well, in this an extremely horrible market for jobs) and then Peter is left with nothing on his shirt. Though, the irony is that the Bong who was turfed out first is the one coming back to right the INX ship, but as they say in Bangla, "Dhongsho Hoye Gache", I don't think there is much to save. I know some media reporters drank the Mukerjea Kool-Aid as did the WSJ (most powerful women in India - Please!), and this blog was always on the ball. This is just the beginning of the end, at least one or two more media bosses might see it all fritter away. The thing is that with the chaos and the bad blood that ensued following the NewsX fiasco a year ago, you can't really wish them very well either.

News from America and other stuff

And it doesn't look so good - any one of ten papers or even all ten could be shut down soon. But even in those that are surviving, the new brain trust (with Indian connections, mind you) in some cases is not getting through to the staff? Is the new Blackberry Storm really that good? I found it irritating very honestly, though I really do like the Curve 8900.
And if the BJP wants my vote, please, please tell Arti Mehra to take down her pictures that have been plastered on my morning commute. I've lived in India long enough to be able to tune out of most things, but somehow 'her' face still manages to give me daymares. And if she stands for New Delhi, I'm seriously going to vote for whoever the Congress puts up, most probably Ajay Maken. Heck, I might vote for Maken even if Vijay Goel stands. Plastering adverts and starting blogs won't make me blindly vote, if the BJP wants to be seen as the party of change it cannot be achieved by taking out ads for Advani on The Guardian's website (served up by Google to Indian IP's - though the irony is delicious) but by putting up candidates who truly signify change. Anyway, I know that it all comes down to the guys who put up the best 'Get Out The Vote' campaign fuelled by cheap country liquor on Election day and that casteism, despite everything still dominates our elections. But I'm impressed at the Times Of India's Lead India campaign this year, but lets see what the voting numbers are?
Happy Holi to everyone out there, have a blast and don't get too stoned on Bhang. I'll see you all soon enough though I might disappear for a day or two on work!

Monday, March 09, 2009

But what will TV do?

In case you were wondering, the Press Council of India, a body that looks over the print media - newspapers, newsmagazines, the lot has come out with a set of guidelines for coverage for the General Elections. As such, they state the bleeding obvious, but then again given the brains of some journalists, the bleeding obvious has to be stated. I'm publishing the guidelines below, but I just have one question - What about the television channels? In the surfeit of guidelines for TV channels and the joke of 'self-censorship' and the rather open political stance taken by some channels given their ownership direct (Jaya TV for example) or indirect (any of the English channels with their penchant to create mass hysteria against the BJP) - is the broadcasters association going to come up with anything or will this be open season?
About the guidelines - firstly, I think it is the right of any paper to 'endorse' a party though not candidates (in India). I also think that rule four could be interesting - I doubt it will ever get followed particularly since money is in really short supply - though HT has made a good start but they could ease up on carrying their reporters pictures, but the coverage so far has been interesting. Anyway more later.

i) General Election is a very important feature of our democracy and it is imperative that the media transmits to the electorate fair and objective reports of the election campaign by the contesting parties. Freedom of the Press depends to a large measure on the Press itself behaving with a sense of responsibility. It is, therefore, necessaryto ensure that the media adheres to this principle of fair andobjective reporting of the election campaign. The Press Council has, therefore, formulated the following guidelinesto the media for observance during elections:

1. It will be the duty of the Press to give objective reports about elections and the candidates. The newspapers are not expected to indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports about any candidate/party or incident during the elections. In practice, two or three closely contesting candidates attract all the media attention. While reporting on the actual campaign, a newspaper may not leave out any important point raised by a candidate and make an attack on his or her opponent.

2. Election campaign along communal or caste lines is banned under the election rules. Hence, the Press should eschew reports which tend to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between people on the ground ofreligion, race, caste, community or language.

3. The Press should refrain from publishing false or critical statements in regard to the personal character and conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature or withdrawal of anycandidate or his candidature, to prejudice the prospects of thatcandidate in the elections. The Press shall not publish unverified allegations against any candidate/party.

4. The Press shall not accept any kind of inducement, financial orotherwise, to project a candidate/party. It shall not accept hospitality or other facilities offered to them by or on behalf of any candidate/party.

5.The Press is not expected to indulge in canvassing of a particular candidate/party. If it does, it shall allow the right of reply to theother candidate/party.

6. The Press shall not accept/publish any advertisement at the cost of public exchequer regarding achievements of a party/ government in power.

7. The Press shall observe all the directions/orders/instructions of the Election Commission/Returning Officers or Chief Electoral Officer issued from time to time.

ii) Guidelines on 'Pre-poll' and 'Exit-polls' Survey-1996

The Press Council of India having considered the question of desirability or otherwise of publication of findings of pre-poll surveys and the purpose served by them, is of theview that the newspapers should not allow their forum to be used for distortions and manipulations of the elections and should not allow themselves to be exploited by the interested parties.

The Press Council, therefore, advises that in view of the crucial position occupied by the electoral process in a representative democracy like ours, the newspapers should be on guard against their precious forum being used for distortions and manipulations of the elections. This has become necessary to emphasize today since the print media is sought to be increasingly exploited by the interested individuals and groups to misguide and mislead the unwary voters bysubtle and not so subtle propaganda on casteist, religious and ethnicbasis as well as by the use of sophisticated means like the alleged pre-poll surveys. While the communal and seditious propaganda is not difficult to detect in many cases, the interested use of the pre-poll survey, sometimes deliberately planted, is not so easy to uncover.

ThePress Council, therefore, suggests that whenever the newspapers publish pre-poll surveys, they should take care to preface them conspicuously by indicating the institutions which have carried such surveys, the individuals and organisations which have commissioned the surveys, the size and nature of sample selected, the method of selection of the sample for the findings and the possible margin of error in the findings.

2. Further in the event of staggered poll dates, the media is seen to carry exit-poll surveys of the polls already held. This is likely to influence the voters where the polling is yet to commence. With a view to ensure that the electoral process is kept pure and the voters'minds are not influenced by any external factors, it is necessary that the media does not publish the exit-poll surveys till the last poll is held.

3. The Press Council, therefore, requests the Press to abide by thefollowing guideline in respect of the exit polls:
Guideline: No newspaper shall publish exit-poll surveys, however, genuine they may be, till the last of the polls is over.


Apologies for disappearing but I had to endure Pervy Mushy's saturday night dinner schtick of 'I almost solved Kashmir', and being cornered by five people and suffering the Spanish inquisition on why I haven't updated my blog over the past week. Well, honestly I do have a ton of work and March will surprisingly be a heavy travel month but with the cutbacks of airline service doing a 'FIFO' (Fly In Fly Out) is pretty tough to some destinations. So there are some twenty hour days ahead of me, but tell you what, I'm looking forward to it for strange reason. I do need to justify the salary right? Anyway, more later, have a great Holi week, go easy on the bhang but enjoy it nonetheless. You know what, despite the insane traffic and the blatant disregard to life and limb but most Indians, I love this country - slumdogs and all. And Holi is one of those things about India I love the most. As long as I manage to avoid people with pigment, which isn't easy when one of your best friends runs a pigment factory.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Not an alternative career

I'm not writing this as a disgruntled blogger, because I am not disgruntled. But blogging is not a career option for journalists. No matter how much you game the system and click on the adverts you won't make much money. In over two and a half years I've raked in about $200, maybe because I can have better advertising placement but mainly because there is not too much money to be made. Sure, you can make a few hundred dollars a month if you do this seriously and a few hundred dollars at the current exchange rate is bloody good, but I doubt it will keep the home fires going. Blogging, or micro-blogging are not career options. The blog networks set up by Nick Denton in the US are laying off people. A well-run blog can make money, more money than some new magazines because the cost of bandwidth and server space is miniscule compared to the cost of newsprint, but as a career option. On a badly designed blog! Sorry to burst the bubble folks, but the bubble does not exist. Read Dan Lyons experience with the FSJ blog, and this guy ran a truly popular blog and is a 'propah' journo.
PS: Only 'propah' journos can do what Dan did to a CNBC twat, though after watching a lot of CNBC US, I'm pretty sure that the kids at CNBC TV18 are far smarter than their US counterparts. Though, really that isn't saying much.