Adani Group, one of India’s largest business conglomerates involved in multiple fields, including mining, airport, and renewable energy, has acquired a 50.5% stake in the newswire services provider IANS India Pvt. Ltd. With this acquisition, the Adani Group now owns three media properties: the NDTV broadcasting network, Quintillion Business Media Pvt Ltd, which operates the business and financial news digital media platform B Q Prime, and now IANS.
It’s not just the Adani Group; earlier, the Reliance Group, another large business conglomerate in India, acquired several media establishments. Additionally, other business houses in India have minor or major stakes in some media houses.
The Adani Group, much like the Reliance Group, has significantly contributed to India’s industrial and economic growth by setting up major projects and operating them with a high level of management capability and dynamism. Despite criticisms from motivated critics, business rivals, sections of the media, and even a few political parties, the fact remains that their growth profile and risk-taking ability need to be appreciated and applauded, benefiting India overall.
While this is true, the disturbing question arises: why do these large business conglomerates venture to acquire a majority stake in media houses and bring such media under their full control?
When newspapers, journals, and other media establishments come under the control of business houses, editors inevitably have to take the instructions of these business people, losing their independence to make decisions based on independent judgment. In such circumstances, the media loses its independence and becomes suspect in the eyes of the readers and viewers.
Already, there is a view that a section of the media in India reflects the views of a political party, vested interest, or business houses, and their credibility has considerably suffered. Suspicions about the motives of a section of the print and visual media involve several newspapers and journals that have been in existence for several decades and once enjoyed the confidence and faith of subscribers in their fairness, unprejudiced views, and impartiality.
It is often said that independent media is one of the pillars of a vibrant democratic society. Independent media can influence the thoughts and aspirations of the people in a progressive and positive way, motivating them to strive for an equitable and fair society. When media remains independent, it is feared by corrupt politicians, dishonest businessmen, and other members of society. Such media is deemed the conscience keeper of society and remains a fighting forum against evil forces.
With the Indian media steadily and increasingly falling under the control of business houses, political parties, and religious outfits, a channelling positive force would be lost for the country.
It has now become a matter of urgent necessity that some law should be enacted to prevent media houses from falling under the control of business houses, political parties, and other vested interests, so that genuine independent and farsighted journalists can operate and express their views independently.
It is often heard these days that some journalists are semi-politicians in the sense that they reflect the views of some political or social group and assess the scenario with colored vision. Such a spoilage of the image of journalists happens only due to media houses falling under the control of owners who are not involved in journalistic pursuits and who appoint journalists catering to their views 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, much like the Reliance Group and a few other business houses taking over media, is a nail in the coffin of independent media in India.