One of India’s few remaining news channels known for independent reporting is about to be taken over by a billionaire ally of the prime minister, Narendra Modi.
In recent years, NDTV (New Delhi Television) has earned a reputation as one of the last bastions of independent journalism among India’s mainstream media, which have increasingly been put under pressure to toe the government line under Modi, who came to power in 2014.
In August, Gautam Adani, the Indian industrialist who is Asia’s richest man, began a covert takeover bid for NDTV by acquiring a third-party company that had a stake in the channel.
The move was met with fierce resistance from NDTV’s husband and wife founders and directors, Prannoy and Radhika Roy, who said the deal was done “without discussion, consent or notice” and who sought to block the transfer of shares.
However, this week it was confirmed that the Adani group had acquired a 29.18% stake in the news group and has an open offer on an additional 26% of the company. This week, the Roys stepped down from the board of NDTV’s promoter company, which had sold their shares to Adani.
Journalists and analysts expressed concern that an Adani takeover would compromise NDTV’s editorial independence, which has stood in stark contrast to other mainstream news channels, which have largely become a mouthpiece for Modi’s rightwing government. As a result, NDTV had come under direct pressure from the government, while its founders were investigated for money laundering and banned from leaving India.
The relationship between the prime minister and Adani is well documented, dating back over two decades to when Modi was chief minister of the state of Gujarat and Adani an up-and-coming Gujarati businessman. Modi’s rise through the political ranks was mirrored by the expansion of Adani’s vast empire, now the third largest in India, which includes everything from coalmining to transport and renewable energy.
This story was originally published in theguardian.com. Read the full story here