Buzz in Delhi: Who pays for PM’s live coverage on TV channels?

Live coverage of roadshows cost money. So, who is paying for the live blitzkrieg of Narendra Modi’s road shows on all TV channels?

Photo by PTI
Photo by PTI


On Sunday evening, most television channels based out of the National Capital Region, and quite possibly elsewhere, replaced their regular programmes with the live coverage of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s triumphant visit to Surat. Even NDTV, generally perceived as more balanced and more critical of the present dispensation, replaced its popular ‘Truth Vs Hype’ programme in favour of live streaming the images from Surat.

While saturation coverage of the Prime Minister on both private and state TV channels – whether it is Mann Ki Baat or his roadshow on the sidelines of a party event, speeches delivered at election rallies and addresses at official functions – has been a media feature in the last four years, people on social media have started asking questions. No Prime Minister, not even Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Rajiv Gandhi, whose coverage on TV led people to name Doordarshan as ‘Rajiv Darshan’ – has arguably received such treatment. No other head of government, in the UK or the US for example, receives such treatment either.

So, are TV channels, especially the private channels, getting paid? Or is it just being made available to them free so that they can take the easy way out and fill up air time? If they are being paid, who is paying them? And how much is the rate card, if there’s one?

In any case, telecasting programmes live costs money. And somebody surely is picking up the tabs.

Jual Oram slaps his PA

Union Minister and BJP heavyweight from Odisha, Jual Oram, caused a sensation in Bhubaneswar by publicly slapping his personal assistant Siddharth Mohapatra alias Kulu. The slap, eyewitnesses were quoted as saying, was hard enough to jolt Mohapatra. But an unfazed Oram later told media outlets that the junior staff member had done something wrong and therefore he had ‘pushed’ and not ‘slapped’ him. Eyewitness accounts say the Union minister was looking for his assistant during the BJP National Executive Meeting but Mohapatra was not to be found at the venue. When he finally turned up, the minister gave him an earful and then delivered a resounding slap. It was not ‘news’, of course, for the TV channels and the national media, even though they were in attendance and the incident happened in their presence.

More to Jethmalani’s bill than meets the eye

While the media has been agog with the whopping ₹3.78 crore bill for appearance and consultancy that Ram Jethmalani sent to the Delhi Chief Minister for defending him in a defamation case filed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, knowledgeable circles hold there was much more to it than meets the eye. The outspoken and firebrand criminal lawyer, known for his fierce courtroom manners, they insist, had recommended someone’s name to be fielded as AAP candidate in the election for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). But when his request was not heeded, Jethmalani got even by sending Kejriwal the bill and leaking it out to the media. Last heard, he had said that if Kejriwal was not able to afford his fees, he would defend him for free.

Jab they met

The capital’s Taj Mansingh Hotel recently hosted the wedding of the daughter of journalist Hemant Sharma, currently the News Director of India TV. Sharma, a well-known figure from Lucknow, was known for his proximity to Samajwadi Party leaders there. There was, therefore, no surprise when both Ramgopal Yadav and Shivpal Yadav, the former with Akhilesh Yadav and the latter with Mulayam Singh Yadav, turned up to bless the couple. But the Yadav cousins didn’t exchange a word, gave each other a frosty look instead before proceeding to the dais. Assembled journalists, as is their wont, tried to bring the two together but the ice was apparently not broken.

Books on Pawar and Praful Patel

Two books on the two NCP leaders were released in the capital in quick succession. While Patel’s book launch was a more elaborate affair, the book on Sharad Pawar, penned by DP Tripathi, himself a Rajya Sabha MP from the NCP whose term is drawing to a close, was launched at a more select gathering. The book in Hindi, Swayamsiddha: Sharad Pawar ka Jeevan aur Samay, is published by Vani Prakashan. While Sharad Pawar didn’t make it to the event due to ill-health, his daughter and MP Supriya Sule was in attendance. Others who were spotted included Praful Patel, Jaya Bachchan, Rajiv Shukla and Ashok Vajpeyi.

Govindacharya’s birthday bash

The 75th birth anniversary of RSS ideologue Govindacharya is to be celebrated at an event in the Constitution Club later this week. His admirers have sent out invitations to all the movers and shakers in the capital and expect several union ministers and MPs to attend. But there is still no confirmation from the Prime Minister and BJP chief Amit Shah. An unfazed organiser quipped, “We belong to the same family and even if they don’t turn up, it would be wrong to think that there are differences or bitterness.”

Will RLD merge with BJP before 2019?

Has Chaudhary Ajit Singh made up his mind to embrace the BJP before 2019? The buzz in the community is that the Chaudhary is upset with his community for denying him the role of a kingmaker in Uttar Pradesh. He is reconciled now to being in the wilderness and seems to believe that a merger with the BJP is his best bet.

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