Politics can make for strange bedfellows. In 2002, Ram Vilas Paswan had quit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance or the NDA spewing venom at Narendra Modi’s handling of the Gujarat riots. Now, a dozen years later, he has joined hands with the Modi-led BJP. Paswan is not the only one who has done a volte face. MJ Akbar did the same.
The mind boggles every time I see sworn enemies turn friends and partners. But, that’s the way it works in our politics. And do we see the same in the media? Last weekend, a friend drew my attention to what took me by surprise. A Times Now ad on Aaj Tak. Now, it’s not the case of a new show on a general entertainment channel that’s advertising on a news channel.
It’s not even the case of a sports network promoting a forthcoming cricket series on a rival. It’s Times Now advertising on Aaj Tak whose sibling Headlines Today is a close competitor. Now I wouldn’t be very surprised if, say, an ABP News or Zee News were to be advertising on Times Now because they aren’t competing.
But Aaj Tak has a Headlines Today in its fold so it’s indeed surprising that it accepted a Times Now campaign. There may have been occasions when its ratings went up, but I would say that this is the first time in its 11-year-old existence that Headline Today’s content is looking good. All thanks to the entry of Karan Thapar.
In the way the media has traditionally been run in our country, one would’ve expected TV Today to guard its fortress and not let an outsider steal the thunder on the back of what is indeed the numero uno Hindi channel. I am not sure if it’s a case of oversight. I am not sure it could be that Headlines Today is trying to woo Arnab Goswami to the channel. It’s a welcome move indeed, but I think it’s more the case of sabse bada rupaiyya!
Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it.