Thursday, 12 March 2015

Politics and media control

Today, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) is quite a media conglomerate at a national level. Its central organs are People’s Democracy in English, from New Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi, Hyderabad, and Agartala, and the Lok Lehar in Hindi. The Party publishes a theoretical quarterly, The Marxist; five dailies in different Indian languages; several weeklies and fortnightlies in Assamese, Oriya, Bengali, Malayalam, Punjabi, Kannada, Marathi, and Gujarati. Its Hindi weekly, Swadhinata, and its Urdu fortnightly, Abshar, are published from Kolkata. Besides, there are Janashakti(Kannada), Jeevan arg (Marathi), Samyabadi (Oriya), Ganashakti (Assamese and Bengali) and Chitan (Gujarati). There are also Hindi fortnightlies, Lok Samvad (Uttar Pradesh), Lok Jatan (Madhya Pradesh), and Lok Janvad (Bihar). These efforts are backed by its own news agency, the India News Network. The party also runs a publishing house, LeftWord Books, which deals in broad Left-wing publications only. That apart, it has publishing houses in various States such as the National Book Agency in West Bengal, the Chinta Publications in Kerala, and the Prajashakti Book House in Andhra Pradesh.

In Kerala, another CPI (M) stronghold, the party also has the newspaper,Deshabhimani, published by Chintha Printing and Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, controlled by the CPIM(M) Kerala State Committee. Besides, there is the CPI (M)-controlled Malayalam Communications Limited that owns the Kairali TV and People TV.

The Shiv Sena has the Saamnain Maharashtra; the Rashtriya Swayamsevak  prior to the partition of the country the same year. Over the years it has had leading political personalities editing it, including L. K. Advani. 

The National Herald, founded by Jawaharlal Nehru (on September 9, 1938) and funded by the Indian National Congress for many years, shut down in 2008, in its 70th year, along with its Urdu edition Qaumi Awaz, and was revived in 2011 (with a stockbroker, Vishnu Goyal putting in the funds and becoming editor). The paper was once edited by the redoubtable M. Chalapathi Rau.

The company which publishes The Pioneer, the daily for which Rudyard Kipling once wrote, is now controlled by a Rajya Sabha member from the Bharatiya Janata Party, Chandan Mitra. It also owns Namaskar, the in-flight magazine of Air India, (through CMYK Printech Ltd).

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the father of the nation, published Harijan in English (from 1933 to 1948), Harijan Bandhu in Gujarat and Harijan Sevak in Hindi, all of which ceased to exist.
It is one thing for a newspaper or a magazine to have a political or economic point of view. It is quite another for a media organ that does publicly admit to no affiliation to plug a point of view to the unsuspecting reader or a viewer. Politically affiliated or owned publications occupy a very important and expanding space in the media business, with inroads into radio and television as well.

In Andhra Pradesh, for instance, Jagan Mohan Reddy, son of the late chief minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, has the newspaper and television channel Sakshi, both owned by the Jagan Mohan-controlled Indira Television Limited (Sakshi TV) and Jagati Publications Ltd, the holding company for the daily Sakshi. Sakshi TV has had a photograph of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy on a top corner that has had flowers being showered on the head of the deceased leader non-stop, from the day he passed away.

The other important Andhra media player with a clear political agenda is the K. Chandrasekhara Rao-controlled television channel T-News

Thus, Rajeev Shukla, the Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and secretary of the All India Congress Committee, controls the News 24 television channel with hiswife Anuradha Prasad, who happens to be the sister of the BJP leader, Ravi Shankar Prasad..

Vijay Darda, Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, is the chairman of the Lokmat Media Group that controls IBN-Lokmat, apart from the newspaper Lokmat,the largest-circulated Marathi daily which is also one of the most widely-circulated daily newspapers in India. 

In Kerala, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) has teamed up with four non-resident Indian businessmen who have a combined holding of about 26 per cent in Jai Hind TV, controlled by Bharat Broadcasting Network Ltd.

Among the key individuals controlling the operations are Ramesh Chennithala, former minister and official spokesman of KPCC, M.M. Hassan and two Dubai-based businessmen, Kunjukutty Aniyankunju and Vijayan Thomas.the Indiavisionchannel, controlled by M. K. Muneer, former Muslim League minister, through Indiavision Satellite Communications Limited.

Other Congress connections with the media in Tamil Nadu come courtesy H. Vasanthkumar, MLA and president of the Tamil Nadu commerce wing of the Congress, which controls Vasanth TV held by Vasanth and Co. Media Network Private Limited. There is also K. V. Thangabalu, Congress MP and former Union minister, who controls Mega TV, held through Silverstar Communications Limited. The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) controls Makkal TV, through Makkal Tholai Thodarpu Kuzhumam Ltd, which is controlled by PMK chief S. Ramadoss, father of former Union Health Minister Ambumani Ramadoss.

Kalanithi Maran, the grand nephew of Karunanidhi, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) patriarch. Maran controls Sun TV, Sun News, KTV, Sun Music, Chutti TV, Sumangali Cable, Adithya TV, Chintu TV, Kiran TV, Khushi TV, Udaya Comedy, Udaya Music, Gemini TV, Gemini Comedy, and Gemini Movies. He also controls the newspaper Dinakaran,and Suryan FM93.5 and Red FM 93.5 in the radio space. Sun TV is controlled by Sun TV Network Limited, Suryan FM is owned by Kal Radio Ltd,Red FM is owned by South Asia FM Ltd, Dinakaran is owned by Kal Publications Pvt. Ltd. Kal Radio Ltd and South Asia FM Ltd are, in turn, subsidiaries of Sun TV Network Ltd, and Kalanithi Maran has 75 per cent control over these companies. DMK supremo Muthuvel Karunanidhi himself controls Kalaignar TV Pvt. Limited, owner of the very popular Kalaignar TV (one of the alleged beneficiaries of the 2G spectrum scam, courtesy former Union Telecom Minister Andimuthu Raja). Close associate and businessman, M. Raajhendran, controls Raj TV and Raj Digital Plus through Raj Television Network Limited in which he owns 11.3 per cent shares.

With the DMK playing such an important role in this space, can Ms. Jayalalithaa be missing from the scene? The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) chief controls Jaya TV, Jaya Max, Jaya Plus, and J Movie through Mavis Satcom Ltd.
Interestingly, Karnataka does not have the kind of political presence in the media as do Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. The two important players are Anita Kumaraswamy, wife of former chief minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, who owns Kannada Kasturithrough Kasthuri Medias Pvt. Ltd, and businessman Rajeev Chandrashekhar, an independent member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, who controls a host of language offerings: Asianet and Asianet Plus (Malayalam), Suvarna (Kannada), Vijay(Tamil) and Sitara (Telugu), Best FM and Radio Indigo, and Kannada Prabhathrough Jupiter Media and Entertainment, which owns 26 per cent of the shares in the company that publishes Kannada Prabha.
The Trinamool Congress also controls Channel 10, held by Bengal Media Private Limited owned by Santanu and Sudeshna Ghosh. 

source: Hoot