At the outset I must place on record that you and Appan Menon have done more for the media than most others. Appan Menon was my favourite journalist and he had the potential of becoming one of the greatest journalists that South Asia has produced. Fate unfortunately had different designs. You were able to catalyse radical change in India. You changed the media because both you and Appan Menon were brutally honest. “Those were the days” as far as Indian broadcasting is concerned.
I cannot understand how and where NDTV compromised on the honesty quotient. I understand that the “free-market” does impose restrictions. Your listing on the bourses has meant that investors are a more important stakeholder in the business than your viewers. Your expansion into areas such as advertising (NDTV Media) and lifestyle programming (NDTV Good Times) does pose a lot of restrictions on your ability to critique institutions that use these two vehicles. It must be difficult to prevent an incestuous relationship between some of these companies.
I appreciate that there is no need to make a public admission around the dilution of values. You must have found a conveniently rationalized answer to the challenges that competition and free-market have brought to NDTV’s doorstep.
As a viewer however I must confess that there is much to be desired. Allow me to place before you the most obvious of examples
- NDTV regularly runs stories on Infosys. You do not disclose that Narayanamurthy is an independent director on your board.
- You stooped to astro-turfing when you chose to use the world’s largest auto-manufacturer as a sponsor for NDTV Greenathon.
- Your crew crossed some moral and ethical line in journalism during their coverage of 26/11.
- The biased coverage of the Afzal Guru case raises a whole set of questions, especially around your willingness to send a man to the gallows without a fair trial. There are numerous other examples of your studio's obsession with kangaroo trials where anchors get to play judge, jury and prosecution.
- NDTV has been willing to paint some of the most democratic movements in this country in the same paint as extremists (read naxal). What’s amusing is that you do this on shows that run advertisements for companies that these democratic movements oppose.
May I suggest that you ask your team some tough questions. I think it is time that you brought the journalism that NDTV is known for back on track and left the entertainment to bollywood.