Beware the fury…

Zee boss Subhash Chandra announced his intent to act against media outlets that have been critical of his channel for doctored videos and much else.

Good — one way or other, the question of those doctored videos needs to be more closely examined. Meanwhile, an archival piece by CP Surendran, erstwhile editor in chief of the Chandra-owned newspaper DNA, has some interesting insight into the man’s functioning.

In the light of what he has chosen to write or reveal, this epigram too only sounds like truth. If he were the wrong man at the right time, he wouldn’t own a business empire whose milestones seem to have been accomplished by political patronage. Though Mr Chandra is a BJP party member and is ideologically affiliated to the RSS, the fact that, by 1992, he was running a Rs 1,000 crore business owes much to the Congress governments and the patronage of the Gandhi family. He is, of course, no longer on good terms with the family.

Whether it’s the contract for the export of Basmati rice in the early 1980s to the former Soviet Union, thanks to bribing Dhirendra Brahmachari (Rs 2 crore on the face of it) to get right of way to the then ruling Gandhi family (Sanjay Gandhi, whom he had painstakingly befriended having died by this time in an air crash) or the seed capital for his TV business (a shortfall of $400,000 that came to him, on the recommendation of Rajiv Gandhi, from an “anonymous” NRI) Mr Chandra has perfected the art of seeing bribery as facilitation fees.

And further along:

There is a dismissive reference to Mr Aditya Sinha, one of his editors, caught unaware amidst the Jindal scam. As a result of a FIR that Mr Jindal lodged, Mr Chandra had to appear in police stations, an experience he is not likely to forgive or forget. Mr Sinha, meanwhile, had been writing against the Congress government led by Dr Manmohan Singh. Apparently, the party said they might extend help if Mr Chandra did away with Mr Sinha’s services.

Mr Chandra complied with great alacrity. But neither the Congress party, nor anyone else came to Mr Chandra’s rescue. Mr Chandra felt humiliated. The fact nevertheless remains that he had no qualms in doing away with his editor to save his skin. To hire and fire like this and then to speak of high values like nationalism and the pioneering spirit of his enterprise in the same breath is therefore a bit rich. Mr Chandra is like any other average human being: meretricious and meticulously self-preserving. His overriding objective is to create wealth without beauty. The tacky programmes on his channels are proof.

Interesting piece, which adds to a gradually growing database of information on how the media actually is bought, sold, and operated.