Citizens' Issues
Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption campaign was an unexpected money-spinner for broadcasters

TV channels that were expecting to wind down after the cricket World Cup, were pleasantly surprised by the additional revenues they earned from the interest in the protest at Jantar Mantar

Television viewer interest in Anna Hazare's hunger fast against corruption drew sizeable advertisement revenue amounting to about Rs176 crore for TV channels, according to a report by a television monitoring agency.

After the cricket World Cup final on 2nd April, it was generally felt that television ratings would slip. However, Anna Hazare's campaign for an effective law against corruption took the people by storm, immediately afterwards, giving television channels another reason to smile.

According to the report by Esha, the news monitoring agency, the coverage of the hunger protest at Jantar Mantar was a business delight for TV channels. The report says that on 5,657 video clips of the protest broadcast between 3rd April and 11th April, the channels earned Rs 175.86 crore.

Anna Hazare and his associates had announced their decision to undertake the hunger protest at the beginning of February. On 5th April, the activists marched to Jantar Mantar where they began the protest. As the word spread, thousands joined in from around the country, making it one of the most-viewed events (after the World Cup) this year.

Most of the advertisements reportedly poured in on 8th April, the day Mr Hazare gave the call for a 'jail bharo andolan', after the government rejected the option of including civil society activists in the drafting committee for the new Lokpal Bill. It was also the day when Baba Ramdev and other prominent figures joined Mr Hazare at New Delhi.

CNN IBN, with a share of Rs23 crore, garnered the maximum share, followed by NDTV 24X7 and Times Now respectively. Zee News, which gave maximum coverage, earned Rs580.75 lakh from advertisers.

The media hype surrounding the event was tremendous, and the 24X7 live coverage of the hunger protest kept the nation hooked. With many Bollywood stars and India's popular godmen declaring their support too, the anti-corruption agitation swept the nation. Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook saw frenzied activity, with people joining the movement online, declaring their 'virtual presence' at Jantar Mantar in solidarity with Mr Hazare.

Feeling the pulse of the moment, the electronic media decided to go with the flow.  The events at Jantar Mantar were reported in an overwhelming positive tone. Only a paltry 65 video clips had anything critical about Mr Hazare and the movement. Simultaneously, scorn was heaped on the government and politician. At the end, when the government agreed to his proposals and Anna Hazare ended the fast, a festive spirit engulfed the country.

The prime time slot, between 7pm and 11pm, received collections of Rs52 crore over eight days, while the non-prime time slot earned revenue of Rs123 crore. Among business channels, Zee Business was the top earner, with Rs191 lakh for prime-time coverage and Rs103 lakh in the non-prime time hours.

Understandably, the coverage was limited on the general channels. Among the regional channels, Marathi channels like IBN Lokmat and Star Majha gave the most coverage and earned the most.

The coverage has since normalised, although speculation continues over what will become of the Jan Lokpal Bill, or the representatives leading the case who will understandably be severely targeted. The media will be hoping it can squeeze some more revenue if interest is re-ignited in the saga.


Government notifies export of 5 lakh tonnes of sugar

Out of 5 lakh tonnes, the food ministry has reserved 51,500 tonnes for neighbouring countries and the remaining quantity would be allocated among sugar mills based on their last three years' average production

New Delhi: The government today notified its decision to allow five lakh tonnes of sugar exports, nearly a month after its approval by the panel of ministers, reports PTI.

On 22nd March, the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food had allowed exports of 5 lakh tonnes of sugar under Open General License (OGL) as the country's sugar production is estimated to outstrip demand after a gap of two years.

The retail prices of sugar have also declined sharply in the national capital to Rs30-Rs32 per kg from nearly Rs50 per kg in January last year.

Out of five lakh tonnes, the food ministry has reserved 51,500 tonnes for neighbouring countries and the remaining quantity would be allocated among sugar mills based on their last three years' average production, a senior official said.

Mills would have to undertake exports within 60 days after they get release order from the ministry, he said.

India's sugar production is estimated to rise to 24.5 million tonnes in 2011-12 season (October-September) against 19 million tonnes in the previous year. The annual demand is pegged at 22 million tonnes.

The government had last year allowed mills to meet their export obligations of about one million tonnes under the Advance Licence Scheme (ALS).


Vedanta acquires 10.5% stake in Cairn India

Malaysian state oil company Petronas, which offloaded its entire 14.9% stake in Cairn India, was lapped up by Vedanta that bought 200 million equity shares (10.5% stake) for Rs331 apiece, with the rest being sold to domestic and foreign institutions

New Delhi: London-listed mining group Vedanta Plc has bought at least 10.5% stake in Cairn India from Malaysia's state oil firm Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), which exited totally from the Indian exploration major, reports PTI.

Sesa Goa, a unit of Vedanta, bought 200 million equity shares at Rs331 a piece, said sources in the know of the development.

Petronas sold its entire 14.9% stake in Cairn India with domestic and foreign institutions buying the rest.

The share sale happened in block deals and the tender price was lower than Rs355 a share that the Vedanta Group is offering for buying 20% stake in Cairn India through an open offer.

The Vedanta group in August last year had proposed to buy up to 51% stake in Cairn India from Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy Plc for as much as $8.48 billion.

Subsequent to the deal to buy Cairn Energy at Rs405 a share, Vedanta group firm Sesa Goa announced an open offer to buy an additional 20% stake at Rs355 a piece.

The Rs405 a share price that Vedanta is paying to Cairn Energy, includes a Rs 50% non-compete fee, which is not being paid to minority shareholders.

Sesa Goa's open offer commenced on 11th April and will close at the end of the month.

Sources said Petronas was frustrated at growth being impaired at Cairn India and had so decided to exit the company.

Petronas had invested $800 million to take a little less than 10% stake in Cairn India when the company got listed in 2006. In subsequent two tranches, it raised the stake to 14.9% but off late it had been frustrated as government delayed approvals to Cairn India to raise output.

Cairn India is producing 125,000 barrels of crude oil per day from the Mangala oilfield in the prolific Rajasthan block.

Output can be raised to 150,000 bpd without any new investment, but the oil ministry has been sitting on its request for several months now.


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