An attempted hostile takeover of a prominent news television channel by Indias richest man has revived concerns around media freedom in the united kingdom.
The 2022 Press Freedom Index made by Paris-based Reporters Without Borders places India at 150 out of 180 countries.
Aside from the verbal and physical abuseeven killingof scores of journalists by supporters of varied political parties, unethical editorial processes, and the spread of fake news are known reasons for this poor ranking.
Then there’s the problem of often slimly-disguised political bias of reporters, editors, and television anchors, too.
Billionaire Gautam Adani has made this surprise move amid these allegations.
A unit of his business empire yesterday (Aug. 24) announced the acquisition of 29.18% in NDTV by way of a complex deal. It has additionally issued an open offer for another 26% at Rs294 per share (cumulative: Rs493 crore, $61.73 million). If that undergoes, the $13 billion groupcould have a controlling stake of 55% in the channel.
Apparently, nobody, not NDTVs high-profile founders saw this coming.
Adani can be regarded as a detailed associate of prime minister Narendra Modi from the latters days as Gujarat chief minister in the first 2000sor maybe even before. Increase that, Modi can be strongly backed by Mukesh Ambani whose Reliance Industries controls Network18, another Indian media giant.
Other media empires tend to be seen to accomplish the governments bidding. And Adani already includes a stake in Quint Digital Media.
In a nutshell, a large segment of Indias media industry can be regarded as the Modi governments boy scout.
The takeover of NDTV, on the list of remaining few outliers, therefore, has given Indias advocates of media freedom the jitters.
Gautam Adani to crush media freedom in India?
Founded in 1988 by journalists Radhika Roy and her husband Prannoy Roy, NDTVs reportage has regularly questioned Indias BJP government and its own often vociferous supporters. It has only bolstered its reputation because the one which didnt bend.
Earlier, in that which was seen as its hounding by the federal government, allegations of financial violations were made against NDTV. A case was pursued contrary to the channel by Indias anti-money laundering agency.
The question now could be if all of this could change.
The Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) has alleged that Adanis takeover of NDTV was at the behest of the federal government of your day.
The move will reinforce the narrow, unipolar worldview of the ruling party and impose it further on citizens. The illusion that India continues to be a democracy now lies shattered, it has said.
Some are hoping that despite being truly a hostile takeover, and also if the acquisition come through, Adani may, for reasons uknown, not interfere much editorially. This assumption is apparently in line with the operation of Quint Digital Media, where Adani acquired a stake in March this season.
May be the Adani-NDTV acquisition a done deal?
The hope is that the NDTV promoters might not quit easily.
Hours after yesterdays announcement, NDTV released a statement saying Adanis move was executed without the input from, conversation with, or consent of the NDTV founders.
Legal experts, too, expect a fight.
From NDTVs statements, it appears it isn’t really an agreeable takeover which generally is really as per agreed terms and mechanism, and actually, may become a hostile takeover, Dipti Lavya Swain, founder and managing partner, DLS Law Offices, told Reuters.
The network didn’t spend your time either.
In a late-night stock market filing yesterday, NDTV said, Its founders Prannoy and Radhika Roy have since 2020 been barred from selling or buying shares in Indias securities market, therefore cannot transfer shares which Adani was attempting to seek in a bid to exert control, Reuters reported.