Adani’s NDTV takeover is a worrying portent for Indian media: Economist

The acquisition also further concentrates the highly concentrated broadcast media, the magazine points out.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Billionaire Gautam Adani’s takeover of NDTV has invited media attention not just in India but also abroad. In a recent piece the Economist describes the “tycoon’s takeover bid for an independent broadcaster is a worrying portent”, not least for media freedom.

“That Mr Adani is reported to be the richest man in Asia is one concern, but it is not the main one,” the article says. “Rather, it is his close ties to the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, that cause disquiet.”

If that was not worrying enough, the takeover further concentrates India’s “highly concentrated” broadcast media, “with most channels owned by Reliance Industries, a conglomerate controlled by Mukesh Ambani, another towering business figure. Mr Ambani, as it happens, is also a pal of Mr Modi.”

“Traditionally, Indian governments influenced the media by exploiting the industry’s ownership structure,” the piece adds. “Like Messrs Adani and Ambani, whose business interests range from airports and refineries to retail and textile, the owners of most media companies also make serious money in other sectors. That provides politicians with pressure points. To rein in critical coverage, but without the bad optics of leaning directly on editors, those in office turn on those sister industries instead. The withdrawal of an operating licence here, or the threatened loss of a lucrative government contract there, would usually be enough to persuade owners to whip their irritating journalists into line.”

To get a full picture of Adani’s takeover of NDTV, see Newslaundry’s coverage:

How Adani is taking over NDTV without consulting the Roys

What exactly does NDTV's loan agreement with Reliance say?

‘NDTV will change fundamentally’: What the news industry makes of the Adani takeover

TV Newsance 184: Will Adani take over NDTV?

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