Nearly two-dozen staffers of The Hindu have written in to Churumuri in response to the story Under N. Ram, the Hindu becomes a 'Sorry' paper, providing more chilling evidence of life under the great red warrior, a hyphenated champion of free expression.
But nothing quite captures what we are talking about—the quiet acquiescence to corporate interests—than the paper's mysterious decision to axe this column on Kalanidhi Maran of the Sun TV empire by its media critic Sevanti Ninan three Sundays ago.
The piece, in its entirety, appears on the media website The Hoot (www.thehoot.org). Asked if The Hindu had proffered a reason for not carrying the column, Sevanti says she was merely told that it would be "legally risky", which is another way of saying "due to technical reasons".
Sun-shine in Tamil Nadu
As he gets set to conquer the rest of the country, Kalanidhi Maran is a man to both admire and fear.
By SEVANTI NINAN
When people spoke of Sun TV in a media-saturated city like Delhi they thought of it as that clever company down South, headed by a politician’s son whose name did not quite roll off the tongue. Kalanidhi Maran means little to the average Northerner whose idea of a media star is Barkha Dutt or Prabhu Chawla. But some of that is about to change.
Maran has not become sought after on the Delhi party circuit or a regular on the prime minister’s media entourage like other rising regional media barons. He has merely become the richest listed Indian media owner, personally worth more than Subhash Chandra of Zee, because he owns 90 per cent of his company while Chandra owns much less of his. Sun TV, recently listed, had a stock market valuation last week of Rs 9,150 crore, equal to HT Media, Deccan Chronicle, NDTV, TV Today, Balaji Telefilms and TV 18 put together. India has a new billionaire.
But that’s only part of the story. As a broadcasting conglomerate the clever Southern company which has emerged only second to Star India, the Indian operation of Rupert Murdoch, is not about to remain Southern. A group company, South Asia FM has just acquired nine FM licenses in UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Jagran Prakashan, may own the country’s most read newspaper, but the licenses for Kanpur and Lucknow have gone to the Southerner with financial muscle, while Jagran has had to settle for lesser UP towns. South Asia FM has also garnered frequencies in the North East. For now it's just radio, since Sun's Calcutta foray into cable did not work out last year. But with the Rs 600 crore acquired last month when Maran offloaded a ten per cent stake in his company, it is not about to remain that way.
That, too, is only part of the story! In Tamil Nadu, Sun TV’s current major claim to fame is that in the closely fought state election which begins tomorrow, the network has become an election issue. This isn’t exactly new, with its partisan clout, it manages to do so every election year. Despite all the talk of media owners and editors in the Rajya Sabha, no media house in the country has anywhere near the kind of solid political clout Sun TV has, as a media company virtually spawned in the headquarters of the DMK in Tamil Nadu.
Over the last decade, Kalanidhi Maran has managed to have first a father (Murasoli Maran) and then a brother (Dayanidhi Maran) in the Cabinets of two successive central governments, formed by two opposing political formations! And a grand uncle (M. Karunanidhi) who has been chief minister in his home base Tamil Nadu for at least seven years of the company’s existence.
All of that clout is used to protect an extraordinary monopoly: a cable network, Sumangali Cable Vision, that has sewn up the entire state and has been known to pull out the plug when it does not want the State watch something that is not complimentary to the DMK. And a monopoly on TV news.
Sun TV has the only statewide news channel in Tamil Nadu. Thanks to the nature of Kalanidhi Maran’s clout Jayalalithaa’s Jaya TV has not succeeded in getting clearance for a proposed news channel, applied for in May 2004. Brother Dayanidhi’s Communication Ministry has to give a clearance even if Information and Broadcasting is the nodal ministry for permitting new news channels. And other channels with news ambitions, Star Vijay and Raj TV, have given up.
Together the two monopolies come in handy. Brother Dayanidhi’s alleged attempt to arm twist the Tatas and Star into parting with a controlling stake of their DTH venture, has become an election issue. He is fighting the allegations, and has slapped a defamation suit on the newspaper which broke the story.
Last fortnight, Sumangali simply blacked out all channels for fifteen minutes or more because Jaya TV had announced a discussion on this topic! Not to be outdone, Jaya TV then featured the black out as a news item later in the evening. Meanwhile, Jayalalithaa’s government has tried to take over SVC, but without success.
In addition to fourteen TV channels in four States, the Sun Network has cable assets, four magazines, two newspapers and FM stations. This election the newspapers were used to the hilt to promote the DMK. India does have some fledgling cross media controls in place. But they do not, for instance, stipulate that a media owner should not have a blood relative in the Union Cabinet with a portfolio which governs the industry.
As he gets set to conquer the rest of the country, Kalanidhi Maran is a man to both admire and fear.
“Have influence.. will capitalize”.. that seems to be the mantra these days. Maybe the Hindu got a call from the “Red Brigade” to pull the article back… after all they are coalition partners and are stuffing each others pockets.
Its amazing how Dayanidhi Maran gets away with blatant bias. How did the Tata story end? Last I heard the Tatas asked him to go fly a kite.
I congratulate KP for this coup. This is a great contribution to the free press movement.
I second Andy. Krishna deserves our kudos and so does the Hoot (nice name!).
….and why is it that The Hindu was scared to publih this article ???
Long long ago, I was told that ‘The Hindu’ was the most respected newspaper outside India.
But then, long long ago, Dodo’s were living on this planet….
Why would N. Ram publish anything against the Marans when Dayanidhi is
married to Hindu publisher Rangarajan’s daughter (granddaughter?). I’m not sure if it really matters, but I’ll say it anyway, Dayanidhi’s mother too is an Iyengar with some connections to the Mahavishnu of Mount Road. Expecting high journalistic standards from Hindu is stupid. Along with The Pioneer, Hindu would perhaps rank as the country’s most biased English dailies.
Oh! I thought it was Karunanidhi’s daughter who was married into The Hindu family.
Is not Karunanidhi and his relatives, converted Dalit Christians(who also secretly sneak into Kollur and worship Mookambika)?
I wonder how did tambrahm bhadralogam allow these alliances!?
The Tata story appeared in a few papers and suddenly nothing more was heard about it. I wonder what the latest news is on that front. It is amazing how this family works in tandem to spread the reach of its media empire.
Even last week at Bangalore there was some kind of goon war over cable rights. DH even alleged CM’s wife was involved. Cable Television has ushered goon raj all over India and a source of large amount of Black money. There has never been any honest attempt to reign in a law governing the whole gamut of cable distribution by any state. Cables are run over public /private properties as if it is matter of right. BSNL, BESCOM all lost a golden opportunity to use their existing infrastructure for bringing order to a goon disorder and state could have made supporting laws to help the state undertaking also augment their revenues. Alas! One wonders why none of them even made an attempt in this regard. It may not be too late even to day. It can also bring some urban aesthetics to the jumbled cable eye sore. We thought we had an MRTP act. Even in US some kind of legal battle is on over Microsoft’s monopoly hold over PC / Windows software .Why it does not apply to the likes of Marans’s enterprise? If judge’s kin cannot practice in the same courts, how can one be a Minister holding business interests in the relevant portfolio? This is absurd and only a PIL can bring some possible remedy. If KP wants to fight one, we can all be signatories.
Except THE HINDU has completed a century in its existance,there is nothing much to be proud to feel about it.It only asserted its own right of free expression and not others.
It is well known how it supported that dreaded Emergency of 1975 but once emergency was lifted backtracked on the whole issue. The recent line it has taken is to support the temple rituals to be performed by anybody with a certificate in Aagama irrespective of one’s way of living and food habbits.The suggestion if implemented mayget away with temples manageed by archakas of forwardcommunities but will there
not be any clash if it is applied totemplesin the village where certain ‘Minorities’ who are majoties are controlling.
Pingback: churumuri » Blog Archive » The Hindu responds to Churumuri. We do too.
This article is full of Bull shit…. For example
//And a grand uncle (M. Karunanidhi) who has been chief minister in his home base Tamil Nadu for at least seven years of the company’s existence.//
Sun TV was started in 1993.
Karunanithi was CM from May 1996 to May 2001, where as JJ was the CM from 1991 to May 1996 and May 2001 to May 2006
And if some one says that it (Kalaignar’s rule) is seven years, there are two possibilities
1. He does not know Basic English or Maths
2. He writes with an ulterior motive to degrade some one
my 2cents on this are at
Tamilnalli baradhre…yaavange gothaythadhe….
Adhe nimgu namgu yiro vathyaasa..
Kannadigru Englishnalli chennagi barithaare….
Tamilanavru..Englishidhru…TAMILnalli chennagi barithare
What to do? We the people made a mistake and we are enjoying now…….I feel we deserve to be ruled by such cruel persons
The Hindu can be confidently called ‘The unhindu’ or of late even ‘The Muslim’. Its conduct is an example of the typical perception of a brahmin in TN -to serve their own interests they go to any length and can be utterly ruthless to sacrifice even their own clan.
The coverage of news relating to OBC reservation is a case. The Hindu was a sane voice on reservations before Red wig N Ram took over but now it sings in tune with DMK and worse PMK, which gets coverage larger than its due so that his news paper can be free of trouble by the notorious PMK goons.
And the lectures are for hapless FCs. When Ram asserts freedom of speech know that its for himself only not for others.He feels he is the God who knows whats right. No criticism of him/ his paper is acceptable to him.
Look at the ‘Letters to Editor’ Column. He has butchered it beyond belief. In my 35 years of reading it was one column which used to give beautiful individual opinions to know the pulse of the public but not so now. He publishes only those that suit his leftist failed ideology. There are more politics than opinions!! Going by the uniform style of all letters, not characteristic of indidvidual writers, I have a doubt if he is not planting them!!
And not a day passes off without Bush and USA bashing. Of course Naredra Modi is the numero uno wipping boy. Add to this that Sidhdharth varadarajan, a loony leftist. Otherwise who else on the earth can see benevolence in Iran’s nuclear program. Hasn’t he read the history. Its the same country then called Persia which butchered India and looted us of all wealth. We feel free to ask British to return the Kohinoor but not Iran of Peacock throne which Nadirshaw of Varadarajan’s friend Iran looted.
A cynic called Kruger and a bullshit paper called Guardian are the sources of much of the garbage it prints everyday. Yes garbage. Look in the airport lounge to see the unclaimed bundles of Business line and Hindu papers for the askance. All we know he does this to maintain his crony capitalism.While he parrots ideals liberalism he can be safe about his interests and wealth. Who cares if he is killing his consciense isn’t that typical of communists?
i too share this perception about hindu’s callous leftist slant. you can never read a single article that is critical of china.you can always find a gloryfying article of china everyday with belittling comparision of india.you can call it a state media of china in the same way you can call outlook a state media of italy.it glorifies the three gorges dam and cynically criticises narmada dam.it always belittles our software export by comparing it with high merchandise exports of china knowing fully well that chinese sell these products below cost price.it sniggers at our low FDI knowing fully well that most of chinese FDI is rerouted black money from chinese citizens much like the participatory notes in BSE whickh it high lights relentlessly.
it champions the right of iran to have the right of n bomb.but ceaselessly criticizes bjp for exploding the bomb.it praises the utterly foolish policy of nehru governments foolish anti american and NAM policies,but relentlesly criticizes the practical pro US policies followed by the UPA and NDA governments.it criticizes INDO US nuclear deals knowing fully well that stategically there is no alternative to it.
Hindu over the years have become very uncredible. The editorials are baseless and marxist filled emotions. Its editor and key staff members have had free trips to China occupied Tibet and have since then run Chinese fed lies about Tibet to mislead the Indian population about Tibet’s true condition. It has become a tool for the leftists and Communist China
I also share your comment.THE HINDU is a strange animal. It carries advertisement for high end cars at the same time commenting why india should not become a car crazy country liki US.It never writes a single line condemning CHINESE NUCLEAR TESTS, but ran a crusade against BJP for doing just one set of tests.
It never writes about CHINA-PAK nuclear nexus,but vehemently opposses the INDO-US nuclear accord. IT epitomises CHINA’s reforms which began ten years ago, but rants continuosly against indian reforms.It never says that there are currently only two nations i.e CHINA and PAKISTAN that are oppposing the INDO-US nuclear deal.It glorifies CHINA’s occupation of tibet knowing fully well the serious implication to INDIA’s interest.
It will never write about the GWADOR port and why the chinese are funding it.It glorifies the manufacturing sector of CHINA which is producing cheap dangerous dupes while polluting the country enmasse without any meaningful pollution control.At the same breadth it does it atmost to belittle INDIAN SOFTWARE INDUSTRY’s acheivements.
You can read it once a fortnight how INDIAN IT SECTOR is plucking young minds and making them cyber coolies while glorifying CHINESE MANUFACTURING SECTOR which turns out cheap contract labored products without one single global brand name of repute.IT never investigates the opacity of CHINESE INDUSTRY’s balance sheeets while continuously ranting against P-N notes in INDIAN EXCHANGES.THE HINDU never investigates how CHINESE PSUs borrowing from CHINESE PSU BANKS with opaque balance sheets and all turning into NPAs.
It glorifies the CHINESE MEDIA CENSHORSHIP.It writes breathtaking improvements in TIBET in its FRONTLINE magazine never mentioning the fact that the trip was sponsored by CHINESE government.
During the past presidential campaign it never wrote a single word in defence of ABDUL KALAM while sneering at him for saying that he will accept second term if majority favours it in a seperate editorial.It stoutly defended bank scam accused senile governer PRATIBA PATIL against ABDUL KALAM with gusto.
You can never read an article criticizing the COMMUNISTS in KERALA and WEST BENGAL.HOW every industry shut shop in CALCUTTA is not news to THE HINDU.you can go on forever like this.
FORWARD THIS comment to ALL unwary readers of THE HINDU
The interests affected would have been more than corporate. They would have been familial. Dayanidhi maran has married into The Hindu’s family.