Anyone who follows Indian news channels would know that NDTV is not a neutral and ethical media house. Most of us have followed the Nira Radia tapes controversy where journalist Barkha Dutt lobbied for A Raja as the telecom minister during the infamous 2G scam by mentioning that she would talk to Ghulam Nabi Azad. Even before that, we have seen her irresponsible coverage of the 2008 Mumbai attacks that provided great help to the LeT terrorists. She made a valiant attempt to make Kanhaiya Kumar popular by interviewing him as soon as he was out on bail. Her soft corner for Kashmiri separatists is well known and that prompted even Hafiz Saeed to praise Barkha. We have all seen Nidhi Razdan trying her best to prove to British MP Barry Gardiner that the then Gujrat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is a controversial character, until Gardiner lost his cool and ripped apart Nidhi. Shekhar Gupta and Srinivasan Jain have always been Congress stooges and at every instance, have tried their best to show Narendra Modi in bad light. If one looks at their print media over the last few years, most of their opinion pieces are written by Mani Shankar Aiyer, Brinda Karat, Shashi Tharoor, Ashutosh, Rana Ayyub, Derek O’Brien and we all know which side of the political spectrum each one of them belongs to. We also know that NDTV chief Prannoy Roy’s wife Radhika Roy is Brinda Karat’s sister and hence, there could be a communist propaganda that NDTV carries.
Well, these are the things that all of us know about NDTV. As Sir Issac Newton once said, ‘what we know is a drop, what we don’t is an ocean’ (in reality, this was quoted in Tamil by Avvaiyar much before Sir Newton was born), there are a lot of things that most of us do not know about NDTV and the key players of team NDTV. Sree Iyer, the Managing Editor of PGurus has made a brilliant and valiant attempt to expose the various misdeeds and illegal activities committed by the media organization.
The book is a narrative of how two promoters of NDTV, along with key top management colluded over the years with government functionaries and politicians to break laws, evade taxes and deceive shareholders of a public listed company.
The key contents of the book are summarized below:
1) NDTV started as a private production house and bagged programs from public broadcaster Doordarshan in the mid-80s. There is a good description of how NDTV used Doordarshan’s resources (government money), built value and cashed some of it by selling to private equity investors. The book then goes on to examine nepotism in NDTV and unethical practices in appointing journalists.
2) NDTV’s alliance with Rupert Murdoch’s Star News wherein Murdoch had no other viable option
3) Irregularities of 3.52 crores uncovered by the then Minister of Information and Broadcasting CM Ibrahim, but the shielding of this irregularity by Arun Jaitley, who became the I&B Minister during NDA 1.
4) Unethical reporting by Barkha Dutt during the Kargil war and the media hit job of targeting BJP’s then rising star Narendra Modi during the 2002 Gujarat riots. There is a description of how even many BJP leaders wanted Modi to be targeted.
5) The golden period of NDTV during ten years of UPA rule where both Ministers P Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee had a soft corner for NDTV, which resulted in money flowing from all the tax havens violating all norms of the Finance Ministry.
6) Harrassment of the upright Income Tax official SK Srivastava for detecting frauds in accounting in early 2006.
7) Various hurdles created by top politicians for minority shareholders Sanjay Dutt and Sanjay Jain of Quantum Securities Private Limited, when they came up with a list of violations by fudging accounts, money laundering by floating shell companies across the world.
8) The role of ICICI bank (under KV Kamath) in receiving a funding of Rs 375 crores to a private holdings company RRPR Holdings Private Limited. RRPR stands for Radhika Roy Prannoy Roy.
9) The role of SEBI in ignoring several complaints relating to insider trading, disclosure violations and fraudulent trades.
10) The connection between NDTV and the Aircel maxis scam
11) FEMA violations by NDTV, which the ED decided to change to PMLA as there is a jail term of 3-7 years under PMLA.
12) NDTV caught by the IT department in June 2016 and slapped a fine of Rs 525 crores.
13) Siphoning of Rs 146 crores into the personal accounts of Prannoy and Radhika Roy
14) The book also talks about the role of some of the big corporates like Reliance and GE in conspiring to loot along with NDTV.
15) Dr Swamy’s complaint about NDTV to Prime Minister Modi – This is a book that I would strongly recommend every Indian to read and understand how this media house, backed by politicians belonging to both Congress and BJP, thrived and has been deeply involved in all financial malpractices. Kudos to Mr Sree Iyer for showing guts and publishing this book that is bound to ruffle many feathers.