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MEDIA WATCH BRIEF

Are private radio  channels being pressured by the government to air PM Modi's Mann ki Baat radio chat every month? A  Hindustan Times report   on December 19 says the PMO pressurised the information and broadcasting ministry last month to "pursue privately-owned media to cut back routine programming and broadcast Mann Ki Baat." The report quotes the head of a leading private FM channel as saying that he didn’t agree when the ministry initially requested his station to broadcast the show, but when the ministry requested us a second time, we agreed.” 

On  December 16, when all media was focused on the Taliban attack in Peshawar,  Press Council chief Markandey Katju decided to contribute his tupenny worth on  Facebook: “In my opinion such incidents are a direct and inevitable consequence of creating a theological state in a subcontinent of such diversity. We shall witness more such incidents in the future, often of a greater intensity and bloodshed.” When reprimanded, he defended himself more vociferously: “Those persons who believe that Pakistan is a real country, not a fake, artificial one, need not come on my Facebook page at all, otherwise they will immediately be blocked.”

When the English-language newspapers claim exclusives, the presumption is that something that appeared a day or two before in the Hindi press does not count. So the Economic Times claimed on December 15 that  its page-two interview with Jugal Kishore, the VHP functionary in charge of "Ghar Wapasi", was an exclusive, even though it had been preceded two days earlier by a front-page exclusive with the same worthy  in Amar Ujala.

Vinod Mehta's last book "Lucknow Boy" was dedicated to Outlook proprietor Rajan Raheja whom he called a prince among proprietors. His latest one "Editor Unplugged" explains how supporting his editorial decisions finally became unaffordable for Mr Raheja. Publishing the Radia tapes cost the magazine a loss of Rs 5 crore worth of  Tata advertising annually, plus a defamation suit to fight after Outlook did a further Tata story on VSNL land after the Tatas bought the public sector company. Regretfully the ‘prince’ elevated  Mehta to editorial chairman from editor.

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