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Adanis' IANS takeover: Media 'becoming suspect' in public eye, losing independence

By NS Venkataraman* 

Adani group, one of India’s largest business conglomerates, involved in multiple fields including mining, airport, renewable energy and so on has now  acquired  50.5% stake in newswire services provider IANS India Pvt. Ltd. With this acquisition, Adani group owns three media properties  namely the NDTV broadcasting network, Quintillion Business Media Pvt Ltd, which operates the business and financial news digital media platform BQ Prime and now IANS.
It is not only Adani group but earlier Reliance group, another large business conglomerate in India has acquired several media establishments. There are also other business houses in India,  which have minor or major stake in some media houses.
Adani group, just like Reliance group, may have contributed enormously to India’s industrial and economic growth by setting up major projects and operating them with high  level of management capability and dynamism.  
If some critics, and perhaps  some business rivals and sections of media, and even a few political parties, lose no opportunity to criticise Adani group or Reliance group  for whatever reasons, their supporters appreciate and applaud their growth profile and risk taking ability, claiming they have benefited India overall.
Be that as it may, the disturbing question is why do these large business conglomerates  venture to acquire majority stakes in the media houses and bring such media under their full control?
When newspapers and journals and other media establishments   come under the control of business houses, obviously, the editors have to necessarily take the instruction of these business people and   editors inevitably would lose their independence to take decisions on  what should be written or spoken  based on independent judgement. 
In other words, in such circumstances, the media loses its independence and become suspect in the eyes of the readers and viewers.
Already, there is a view  that section of media in India reflect the  views of a political party or  vested interest or business houses and their credibility  have considerably suffered.  
Such suspicions of the motives about section of the print and visual media  involve several newspapers and journals,  which have been in existence for several decades and which once enjoyed confidence and faith of the subscribers about their fairness and unprejudiced views  and impartiality.
Law should be enacted to prevent media houses going under control of business houses or political parties
It is always said that independent media is one of the pillars of a vibrant democratic society. Such independent media can influence the thoughts and aspirations of the people in a progressive and positive way  and motivate them to strive for  an equitable and fair society. 
When media remains independent, such media would be feared by the corrupt politicians and dishonest businessmen and other members of society. Such media would be deemed as the conscience keeper of the society and  would remain as a fighting forum against evil forces.
With the Indian media steadily and increasingly going down under the control of business houses , political parties and religious outfits , a channelizing positive force  would be lost for the country.
It now has become a matter of urgent necessity that some law should be enacted to prevent the media houses going under the control of business houses or political party  and other vested interests,  so that genuine independent and far sighted journalists  would be able to operate and express their views independently.
It is often heard these days that  some of the journalists  are semi politicians  in the sense that they reflect the views of some political or social group and assess the scenario with coloured vision.  
Such spoilage of image of journalists happen only due to the media houses coming under the control of owners who are not involved in  journalistic pursuits  and who appoint those as journalists who cater to their view and priorities.
Protecting the independence of the media is needed to protect the spirit of democracy  and ensure a vibrant positively charged society.
Adani group taking over media just like Reliance group and a few other business houses taking over media is  nail in the coffin of independent media in India.
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai 



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