In a massive blow to NDTV’s promoters, Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has banned them and their holding firm RRPR Holdings from trading in the Securities market for a period of two years. They have also been barred from holding any key managerial position in the NDTV for a period of two years. Not only this, but the SEBI has also banned them from holding any position in any listed entity.
As per the 51-page SEBI Order, all three key promoters including the Roys indulged in insider trading by withholding price-sensitive information about three loan agreements, not making necessary disclosures to the stock exchanges and keeping the minority shareholders in dark. The Order stated, “The loan agreements were unmistakably structured as a scheme to defraud the investors by camouflaging the information about the adversarial terms and conditions impinging upon the interest of NDTV’s shareholders, thereby inducing innocent investors to continue to trade in the shares of NDTV oblivious to such adversarial developments in the shareholding of NDTV.” SEBI Whole-time Director S K Mohanty observed in the order, “Any fraudulent act directly designed to defraud such investors cannot be treated as good for the securities market and for the interest of investors. Such acts, if not dealt with adequately and sternly, will send a wrong signal to the violators having same or similar propensity and will not be good for the securities market.” He added, “I find that the ……. Noticee No.1, Noticee No.2 and Noticee No.3 …. are grossly in violation of the provision of PFUTP Regulations.”
The market regulator has also alleged that the Roys have violated NDTV’s Code of Conduct. The NDTV in its statement has hit back at the SEBI and has stated that the SEBI Order asking Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy to step down as Director and directing them not to hold any key managerial position in NDTV was based on an incorrect assessment of the situation. It also labeled the SEBI Order as “highly unusual and perverse directive.”
It indeed does not augur well for the reputation of the mainstream media if those who claim to be the pioneers of the media industry in the country are reprimanded in such a manner by the market regulator in connection with rather serious allegations. However, the influential leftist club within the mainstream media seems to be standing firmly in support of the Prannoy Roy instead of rebuking them. Shockingly, Prannoy Roy still finds his name in the list of full-time members at the Editors Guild of India. Despite the SEBI banning him from the Securities Market and holding any key managerial position in the NDTV, his name has not been struck off the list of full-time members at the Editors Guild currently headed by Shekhar Gupta, editor-in-chief of The Print. It is preposterous how Editors Guild does not seem to have taken notice of the adverse SEBI Order and has retained Prannoy Roy’s name. It is preposterous how Prannoy Roy’s name still figures in the Editors Guild list as an illustrious member of an influential body which purportedly serves as the press watchdog of India, despite the SEBI banning him on account of insider trading and regulatory violations.