Some TV channels report the news, others make news. The latest to fit into the second category is Rajat Sharma’s India TV, which is facing acute embarrassment over the enforced exit of Hemant Sharma, a director at the channel, who was seen by many as Rajat’s right hand man. Hemant claims he is on a sabbatical but the fact is that he was sacked, and Rajat had no choice after a CBI probe led to the arrests of three people charged with trying to influence government officials to get the ban on a medical college lifted. Hemant was not one of those but he is known to be very close to two of those arrested. Shortly after the arrests, Hemant left and when asked about it, Rajat made a comment saying that he had “zero tolerance for any wrongdoing”. What adds spice to the scandal is that Hemant Sharma is known to be very close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and ex-BJP president Amit Shah, and has been seen escorting them to the India TV studios—it is one of the very few channels where Modi willingly appears.
Changes galore are on the anvil after Smriti Irani has taken over as I&B minister from Venkaiah Naidu. Within days of assuming charge the new minister has made it clear that Doordarshan needs a makeover. So the official broadcaster will soon be getting a new wardrobe for its news anchors—trendy and ethnic seems to Smritiji’s choice—and its sets will get a dash of new colour. Even the newsrooms will have a busy and modern look. The minister apparently wants all the drab out. So babus at the I&B ministry are apparently looking for ideas to improve the grand old lady of Mandi House. Interestingly, there is no directive on news content as yet. Meanwhile, Irani has issued a diktat which should warm the cockles of ad departments in media houses. Henceforth all ads released by ministries and departments in English and regional languages will also be released in Hindi. This would mean more ads since important announcements have to be in English, regional languages and now additionally in Hindi.
In a bizarre incident that is still being talked about in media circles, a veteran journalist from a prominent news agency lashed out at the Chairman/Managing Director of a PSU with Navratna status, complaining about another journalist, in particular with reference to her dress. It was an outrageous outburst mainly because it took place at a well attended press conference at Haryana Bhavan in the capital. The agency reporter’s tirade, which shocked all those present, was to do with an interview the CMD had given to CNBC, the leading business channel. The outrage was to do with the fact that he mentioned the interview with a female reporter from the channel and added, ‘mini-skirted journalists.’ It was clearly a case of sour grapes but what was more shocking was the fact that none of the other journalists present objected to his choice of language.
Publishers Plea Interrupted
The decision by the prime minister to elevate Venkaiah Naidu to the post of vice-president has come as a rude shock to magazine publishers who were lobbying for a removal or reduction on the 12 per cent GST on lightweight coated paper. It is the type of paper most commonly used by magazines and pre-GST they were paying 6 per cent tax. The publishers had met the Union Revenue secretary who had referred them to the I & B ministry which was welcomed since many publishers had built up a personal relationship with the then minister, Naidu, and felt that he would be sympathetic to their plea and refer their case to the GST Council. Before they could ask for an appointment, came news that he was being elevated and Smriti Irani would be looking after the ministry. It was a huge setback since Irani is known to be hostile to the independent media.
Compiled by Dilip Bobb