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How long will Wagle hop from one channel to another?

Media these days is randomly owned by Corporates who are friendly with BJP government. In the past, CNN news was taken over by Ambani. First Post editor who criticized Arun Jaitley the Finance Minister had to change his job because he was thrown out and later he joined as editor of Swarajya and landed up flattering the government for earning his livelihood. Sardesai couple, Barkha Dutt, Ravish kumar to Nikhil Wagle all had to see worst of attacks by right wing supporters just because they criticized establishment. Interestingly, we are yet to believe that freedom of press exists Modi’s visit abroad are covered by pro-Modi journalists and we get screaming headlines and his speeches in local channels while the local big newspapers just mention him in a small column which could even be missed. Modi obviously is self-obsessed and loves publicity. He now has one of his favourites in charge of Information &Broadcasting Ministry. Spinning in the Indian TV news channel business continues. Over the last couple of months there have been many a high-profile exits and reshuffles such as Arnab Goswami, Vikram Chandra, and now Rahul Shivshankar etc. There are various reasons cited by many. Well, this sudden takeover is not limited to nation channels but regional channels too are under attack. Nowadays Marathi media too is on the radar of attackers and Nikhil Wagle is one of the persistent victims.

A popular show on Marathi television run by Nikhil Wagle was cancelled by the channel’s management without any explanations leading to charges of political pressure. Wagle was suddenly informed that his show, ‘Sadetod’, which aired on TV9 every night between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., would not be screened from the next day. In its short span, the show – in which Wagle would moderate a debate with representatives of different political parties and organisations – had reached the highest viewership among Marathi news shows. He gave bold and unbiased presentation and exposed many netas by making them uncomfortable. Some had to run from his show to avoid getting wide-open in public.

After completing the episode for July 19, the management at the TV9 channel informed Wagle that they were closing down the show from the next day. Wagle was shocked as his agreement with the channel was to host the show for a year. And within two and a half months of the show starting, the channel had decided to close the show. TV9 began as a Telugu channel in 2003 and has since expanded its footprint to cover 7 languages. According to Wagle’s statements to media, things were not going smoothly in the last month or so. He was sensing trouble for the last one month and the management would pilfer over minor issues. He was asked for clarifications whenever he spoke or wrote against Narendra Modi or the BJP. His show had spokespersons from all the political parties including the BJP. He was wrongly blamed for criticising a single party or man. He attacked almost all the charlatans from different parties.

Look at senior journalist and Editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, he was out of job without any hint or notice. He had to quit as editor of the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) after the Sameeksha Trust, which publishes the magazine, accused him of ‘grave impropriety’ in seeking legal opinion without the trustees’ approval. Thakurta and the magazine had been threatened with legal action by lawyers acting on behalf of the Adani group. Wagle is not an exception; he too had to go through same tremor.

It’s been said that Wagle was a staunch oppose of a ‘particular’ corporate house which is also allegedly involved in growth of crony capitalism in India especially after 2014. That particular group acquired majority shareholding in the CNN-IBN group which is parent of IBN Lokmat. This led to conflict situation. It’s said that it was against the principles of him to work under people he criticized in the past. He is a staunch critic of right wing extremists and related organizations. His involvement in various events out of his professional arena projected him as a person of progressive ideas. This was visible especially after assassinations of Dr. Dabholkar in Pune and Comrade Pansare in Kolhapur. Let’s see, after going from TV9, where he stops. How long he has to run from one channel to another channel.

Nikhil Wagle started his media career in 1977 as a freelance reporter. He later joined Dinank, a Marathi newsweekly, in Mumbai. In 1979, when the editor of Dinank resigned, the publisher asked 19-year-old Wagle to become the managing editor. Wagle later became the editor-in-chief of Dinank. Subsequently, he went to Pune, and joined Kirloskar Group, which owned a couple of magazines at that time. However, within one month, he quit his new job and came back to Mumbai. In 1982, he started his own publishing house and started a new magazine called Akshar. In 1983, he started a sports magazine Shatkar with Sandeep Patil as editor. In 1985, he started a film magazine Chanderi, which was first edited by Rohini Hattangadi and then by Gautam Rajadhyaksha. He also published some Gujarati language magazines. In 1990, he established the Marathi and Hindi newspaper Mahanagar. He also served as the editor of the Marathi version of the newspaper (Aapla Mahanagar). He became a noted critic of the political party Shiv Sena and its chief Bal Thackeray. For this reason, his office was attacked by the party’s supporters multiple times, beginning in 1991. In 1994, he criticized the Maharashtra legislators for paying fawning tributes to a deceased MLA accused of having criminal connections. When he refused to apologize to the legislators for the critical comments, he was imprisoned for a week. In August 2004, the Shiv Sena supporters beat him up and blackened his face with engine oil for being critical of the party leader Narayan Rane, who later joined Indian National Congress leaving Shiv Sena and attacked his former party and its leaders restlessly.

In mid-2000s, Wagle joined the Network 18 group. He became the editor-in-chief of IBN Lokmat, a Marathi news channel. He hosted the show Aajcha Sawal. He resigned in July 2014. Soon after leaving IBN-Lokmat, Wagle joined Maharashtra 1 news channel as the editor in chief. Many coworkers of Wagle left the network with him to join Maharashtra1 news channel. He carried his Marathi talk show Aajacha Sawal to Maharashtra 1. In November 2016, he resigned from Maharashtra 1. In 2017 he started a talk show “Sadetod” on TV9 Marathi news channel, which is been unaired by management. Wagle one more time walks his way for better opportunity let’s see where it ends.

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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