Anil Thakraney: Bad times looming for editors/content heads

23 May,2012

By Anil Thakraney


What’s the best way for large advertisers to get some ‘good press’ in the media? Use PR agents? Throw lavish parties? Suck up to the editors? Naaah! All that is old fashioned stuff. Nowadays, at least in India, where the media acquisition laws are weak, the industrialists simply go ahead and buy a large stake in a media house. Thus controlling the content, whether the proprietors would like to accept that or not. Recently, Ambani picked up a substantial stake in the Network 18 group. And now the Birlas have bought into the India Today group. Am quite certain more large industrial houses are eyeing similar acquisitions in the media.


This is obviously terrible news for content heads. Because their powers get badly curtailed. Of course, the worst case scenario, which means direct intervention in the content agenda, sucks big time… that’s a nightmarish situation. But even the best case scenario sounds pretty depressing. Because that would mean the media house cannot report/write a single word against the shareholding industrial group. And will often be compelled to project them (and all their partners and subsidiaries) in a favourable light. Consider this: If Mukeshbhai gets caught in a scandal, will Rajdeep Sardesai even think of going after the big man? You know the answer.


I can understand why the corporate world wants to invest in the media. Because it’s a powerful weapon to have in the war chest, and industrialists can leverage business/political deals with its help. The question is: Can we not have tighter laws on media acquisition, like it happens in the western world? Surely the time has come for that.


As a journalist, what worries me most is the yet another body blow to the freedom of expression. Already the industry has suffered because of paid news, sponsored news and other malpractices. Not to speak of the greater powers bestowed to the marketing department of the media company. And now this! Clearly it’s not a good time to be a journalist in this nation.


As for moi, I am seriously thinking of shifting back to advertising. The advertisers are calling all the shots anyway. 🙂


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PS: Haha. The advertising life depicted accurately and hilariously in pictures. If you belong to the ad world, you will identify with every single situation. I am sure you are living them right now!





Anil Thakraney is a Mumbai-based commentator and editor. He is also Editor-at-large, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own



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One response to “Anil Thakraney: Bad times looming for editors/content heads”

  1. Thakraneyisanidiot says:

    Your just depresses cause you have no power nor money. If you want to keep journalism pure then why do you charge money to write? Do it for free baldy !