With the hostile takeover of NewDelhi Television, we have seen the last of the ‘independent’ mainstream television channels in India.
In the latest in a series of resignations at the company after it was taken over by the Adani group, Journalists and anchosr Nidhi Razdan and Sreenivasan Jain have quit NDTV.
Razdan had worked at NDTV 24×7 for over two decades and in a tweet said that her journey with the channel has been a “roller coaster ride but you have to know when to get off”.
She had briefly left the channel in 2021, and returned in February 2022 to anchor the primetime show ‘No Spin’.
Sreenivasan Jain announced his resignation from NDTV on January 28. He has been associated with the news channel since 1995. Jain has anchored the weekly ground reportage show Truth vs Hype on NDTV 24×7. He has also served as the channel’s group editor and was NDTV’s Mumbai bureau chief from 2003 to 2008. He was also briefly managing editor of NDTV’s business channel, Profit.
Journalist Ravish Kumar and NDTV Group president Suparna Singh are among others who quit. NDTV founders Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy also left the company’s board in December 2022.
Disquiet over suppression of stories
It’s started happening. Despite Adani’s ‘assurance’, that the channel would be ‘editorially independent’, censorship and suppression of stories have begun, say some media reports.
The Wire reports that there is ‘some disquiet’ within the channel at the manner in which the recent Hindenberg-Adani story has been covered. The news desk was told to keep off the story for the first three days until it became impossible not to take note of the hammering that Adani group shares were receiving at the stock market.
Even then, NDTV’s new editorial management ensured that none of the channel’s popular primetime programmes chose the Hindenburg-Adani issue as a debate topic.
The takeover story
Two months ago, on December 30, the Adani group said it has acquired a 27.26% equity stake in NDTV from the Roys, founders of the news broadcaster. A week before that, the NDTV board also appointed two nominee directors of the richest Asian Gautam Adani-run conglomerate on the board – Sanjay Pugalia and Senthil Sinniah Chengalvarayan.
Adani Group acquired a 29.18% stake in NDTV by buying a company backed by the television network’s founders, Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy. Thereafter, it made an open offer to acquire an additional 26% from public shareholders.
That open offer found investors willing to sell over 53 lakh shares of NDTV despite the deep discount on the stock’s trading price. The stock tendered translated to an 8.26% shareholding, taking the total interest of Adani Group in NDTV to 37.44% – higher than the 32.26% holding of founders.
RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd is the firm that Adani Group indirectly acquired in August, triggering an open offer to buy a further 26% of the media company.