Ever since BJP came to power, they have been against all those mediapersons and groups who questioned them. NDTV is always on their radar. Recently, NDTV owner Prannoy Roy’s house was raided by CBI as BJP’s spokesperson Sambit Patra was thrown out of the studio for making derogatory comments against the channel.
Few months back, some Sree Iyer, launched an attack on the channel through his book which was on the dirty run-throughs of media houses, in concert with obliging politicians and bureaucrats. It is supposed to be full of revelations. The book was released few months ago but I am wondering why NDTV was not been booked for fraudulent activities as mentioned in the book. Why Swamy, who always ready with the cases, did not initiate any inquiries against the news channel in question? We were expecting the arrest of Roy after the launch of the said book, or the book is pure fiction? Moreover the question here is, why the author categorically has chosen NDTV? Just because BJP and its supporters at large dislike the channel’s two prominent faces, former editor Barkha Dutt and Ravish Kumar?
‘NDTV Frauds’ is a book, as they claimed, exposing the frauds, corruption and unholy nexus in the Indian media industry. Time and again, many writers attacked Indian media for yellow journalism to various practices, tagging them from presstitutes to Bazaru. In the recent past, media has been accused of being paid media. Few channels enjoy the favour of BJP supporters as those channels have become their mouthpiece. Even these channels heads were caught in corruption and were fighting legal battle.
Let’s comes back to “NDTV fraud” written by Sree Iyer, this book is a narrative of how two promoters of NDTV along with key top management conspired over the years with government functionaries and politicians to break laws, evade taxes and deceive shareholders of a public listed company. All this obviously through political patronage and “wheeling-and-dealing” as part of the Lutyens club and how they created a biased public discourse for a select elite class. The author feels that, in the minds of the Indian citizen, there is a space and vast respect for the media. Using the halo of journalism and under the garb of Freedom of Press, media owners misuse their position and in the end, degrade the values of journalism. On several occasions, media willingly became the tool of false propaganda, blackmailing and illegal money-making, all with the blessings of coarse politicians and corporate icons with hidden agendas. This deserves to be exposed and that is the reason for this book. In just 160 pages, Iyer exposes, with all documents, the money siphoning activities of NDTV owners, Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy.
Surprisingly, none of them dared the content published in the book or they might act when time comes, as there is no legal action or inquiry set against the channel believing this book. Though, the book has been in the news for some weeks now. The hilarious part of the book is that, they also raised a question that how did NDTV got licenses in 2003 for a TV channel when the BJP-led government was in power and the channel was cruelly criticizing then BJP’s Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi from 2002 onwards for the riots that occurred in his State? This is a moral question for the BJP’s leadership in Delhi. NDTV is the only channel that attacked Narendra Modi for his role in killings of Muslims in Gujarat riots. There are many news channels and newspapers, worth exposing, but the credibility of the book comes under question when it categorically chose to rip one particular channel. Anyway, if frauds are there that has to be exposed by whomsoever it may be. But my point is that NDTV is not alone or rarest of the rare. The book exposed the bias approach of the author.
Another question, how did NDTV get a license when its promoter, Prannoy Roy, was named in an FIR by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for siphoning funds of Doordarshan in 1998? It’s been three long years BJP is in power and the party had remained as strong as a opposition in past, why NDTV was not banned or booked for the frauds it had committed during that period.
NDTV was founded in 1988 by the couple Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy. On 20 January 1998 Central Bureau of Investigation filed cases against New Delhi Television (NDTV) managing director Prannoy Roy, former director general of Doordarshan R. Basu and five other top officials of Doordarshan under Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for criminal conspiracy and under the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the CBI charge-sheet, Doordarshan suffered a loss of over Rs. 35.2 million due to the “undue favours” shown to NDTV as its programme The World This Week (TWTW) was put in ‘A’ category instead of ‘special A’ category. NDTV allegedly laundered Rs. 5,500 crore by raising funds through “private placements”, from undisclosed investors in NDTV subsidiaries based in UK and Holland. The sums raised by it through dubious investors not only paid off its Rs.-3,500 crore liability but left an amount in excess of Rs. 2,000 crore to be transferred to another account. These funds were transferred to a Mauritius-based NDTV subsidiary. These funds were then routed to several other NDTV subsidiaries in India.
NDTV also showed false exports to Star TV in Hong Kong under section 80 HHF of the Income Tax Act. This act defrauded the government of revenue worth at least Rs. 300 crore at present value. NDTV claimed illegal income tax deductions without making any actual exports and by bringing in Indian rupees instead of foreign exchange as stipulated in supporting judgements. This deduction was allowed by an Income Tax officer Sumana Sen (IRS 99005) whose husband, Abhisar Sharma, has been an employee of NDTV, a fact that she had concealed all through her employment.
On 5th August 2011, Comptroller and Auditor General of India’s report on XIX Commonwealth Games was tabled in Parliament of India. In section 14.4.2 of the report, CAG alleged that while awarding contracts worth Rs. 37.8 million for production & broadcasting of commercials for promoting CWG-2010 to NDTV and CNN-IBN, the Commonwealth Games Organizing Committee followed an arbitrary approach. Proposals were considered in an ad hoc manner, as and when a proposal was received; no form of competitive tendering was adopted.
On November 4, 2016, the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ordered the channel to go off air on November 9 for allegedly divulging ‘strategically sensitive’ details while covering January’s deadly attack on the Pathankot air base. Government put this ban on hold because NDTV requested more time to submit their explanation on this issue. All this has happened and done, but channel is still on air? Is BJP going to take any stern action or will the book remain as fiction only.
Moreover, will BJP ever be able to achieve their motive by targeting NDTV? Their most hated Journalist Barkha Dutt has already left the channel. Those Journalists like Sreenivasan Jain, Nidhi Razdan and Ravish Kumar are keeping their guns trained against system and going vocal about exposing the inefficiency of ruling government. What will BJP achieve by doing so, are they trying to give a message that we will haunt you if you talk against us. Let’s assume this channel closes, whose next? Let all the Journalists ask this question to Modi and his administrators by disapproving bootlicking journalism. So, let me begin this with myself, and here I say I am with NDTV.
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