Is your newspaper or channel involved in Coalgate?
The politician-media nexus is one that dents the pride we take in the freedom of the press in India.
It could be, going by a report in The Hindu.
"Sources in the government said that at least three print media publication houses and one electronic channel have benefited from the allocation of coal blocks by misrepresenting facts to secure critical coal assets," says a line in The Hindu article.
Why would media houses want coal block allocations? One could understand if they wanted land to set up printing presses or for studios, or if they wanted the clearance of licences to launch new channels or speedier registration for new newspapers or lobbied for subsidies in newsprint – but coal block allocations stumps one.
Over the decades, much has been written about the politician-businessman nexus, the politician-criminal nexus, but very little about the politician-media nexus – and perhaps Coalgate will be the beginning.
The politician-media nexus is one that dents the pride we take in the freedom of the press in India. If news media is beholden to the political classes and is profiting from favours granted by politicians, one must presume that there has been a quid pro quo. The stock in trade for news media is in the selection of news, in the analysis and in the stances taken on issues.
It is not farfetched to presume that those who benefited from the allocations could lose their neutrality and objectivity when dealing with news regarding their benefactors. Once the names are known, the costs to the media houses could be much greater than the losses in the coal business caused by cancellation of allotment – they could lose their credibility as well.
From the names currently in the public domain, the Lokmat media house and DB Corp are two names that have come to the fore.
(Disclosure: The Network18 Group has a tieup with the Lokmat Group in IBN Lokmat)
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The CBI had earlier told the Supreme Court that it hadn't got all the required documents for its probe into allegations of corruption into coal block allocations.