Beleaguered media house NDTV, going through tough times, was given a momentary shot in the arm on Monday (September 20) when its shares rallied 10 per cent to hit the upper circuit limit, amid rumours that Adani Group may acquire the company.
Journalist J Gopikrishnan took to Twitter to share the news, where he dissected the details of the said acquisition. He tweeted, “Buzz in Delhi: Adani Group going to buy an old TV Channel which always attacked him & signing will be in London-some say Rs.1600 cr total deal value. But the guy currently heading will only get around Rs.100 cr & saved from cases & major shareholder will take Rs.750cr”
Buzz in Delhi : Adani Group going to buy an old TV Channel which always attacked him&signing will be in London-some say Rs.1600 cr total deal value. But the guy currently heading will only get around Rs.100 cr & saved from cases & major shareholder will take Rs.750cr
Cc : @BDUTT https://t.co/DdQEp9fvms
— J Gopikrishnan (@jgopikrishnan70) September 18, 2021
Adani acquiring and hiring anti-Adani voices
Reports have suggested that Adani Group is looking at Delhi-based media companies for its foray into the media industry, and NDTV may be a potential candidate. NDTV, much like its political masters in the Gandhi family leaves no opportunity to target the Adani group. Thus it appears to be a clear strategy from the business house to acquire the services of those who have been against it in the past.
The group was in news recently for hiring journalist Sanjay Pugalia as the CEO and editor-in-chief to lead its media initiatives. Pugalia had earlier been associated with Quint Digital Media, well- known for targetting Adani Group.
NDTV refuting claims
However, NDTV refuted the claims and stated that it was unsubstantiated rumours that jacked up the stock price. The company does not participate in ‘baseless speculation’.
“NDTV Limited is not in discussions now, nor has been, with any entity for a change in ownership or a divestment of any sort,” NDTV said in a statement. “Founder-promoters, Radhika and Prannoy Roy, who are both journalists, own 61.45 per cent of the company and remain in control of it.” NDTV said in the statement.
Despite quashing the alleged rumours, at the opening of the market today as well, NDTVs share price was hovering around 87.30, up 9.33 per cent from the previous market closing price of 79.85.
NDTV promoters accused of tax fraud
NDTV’s financial performance over the years has been patchy. Previously, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) — securities market regulator of the country had barred access of Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, the promoters of NDTV, to the securities market for two years.
Both promoters were also precluded from holding any management position in their company, NDTV, for two years. They were barred from securities markets for insider trading.
In August 2019, Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy were detained at Mumbai city airport from where they intended to travel to an ‘undisclosed destination’. CBI, the central government agency which is investigating the Roys in tax fraud and few other financial crimes had released a lookout circular (LOC) against them. As a result, the immigration officials detained the pair.
Complete subversion of media freedom in action against NDTV founders
“In a complete subversion of basic rights, NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy were today prevented from leaving the country…(1/3)
— NDTV (@ndtv) August 9, 2019
Additionally, back in 2017, CBI had raided the houses of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and at that time the Roys cried foul and portrayed it as an attack on media freedom. CBI is simultaneously probing a case against NDTV concerning a Rs 375 crore loan from ICICI Bank and a corresponding wrongful loss of Rs 46 crore to the bank.
NDTVs falling popularity
Owing to its dystopic editorial line and general boring nature of the content, NDTV has emerged as one of the least-watched and liked channels in India today. This led to NDTV being dropped from some “popular packs” offered by a cable TV operator Hathway cable. Importantly, Hathway cable has not removed NDTV from its services altogether but has removed the network’s English and Hindi channels from its popular packs.
Ravish Kumar, at the time, had made a hue and cry over the decision of Hathway. In a 1 minute 38 seconds-long video posted on Twitter by NDTV, Ravish Kumar alleged that Hathway Cable has removed his channel as a part of a conspiracy to blackout the channel so that the content of the channel does not reach the audiences.
— NDTV (@ndtv) September 3, 2021
In such bleak times, it is indeed heartening to see NDTV and its shareholders finding some happiness, courtesy of the share price uptick.