9X Tashan

9X Tashan

cobrapost |
March 26, 2018

9X Tashan is one of the most popular Punjabi music channels. Part of 9X Media, founded by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in 2007 and now acquired by Zee TV in 2017, is India’s largest music broadcaster operating six music TV channels and www.spotboye.com, a Bollywood news portal.

9X Tashan is one of the most popular Punjabi music channels. Part of 9X Media, founded by Indrani and Peter Mukerjea in 2007 and now acquired by Zee TV in 2017, is India’s largest music broadcaster operating six music TV channels and www.spotboye.com, a Bollywood news portal. With a weekly viewership of about 1.50 crore, 9X Tashan is undoubtedly a leader on its own right, and with this kind of reach, one can fathom the impact the music channel may have on its viewers if its content could be manipulated to promote a particular ideology.

As our investigation reveals, the top management of the music channel had no qualms in accepting any dirty proposition, even if it meant playing with religious sentiments for political ends, provided it brought them handsome rewards in terms of money. Senior journalist Pushp Sharma first met 9X Tashan Sr. Manager Rahul Srivastava and proposed a deal of Rs. 5 crore for three months between December and March. Giving example of the Golden Temple, Sharma visualizes how he would like to “inject” the paid news content in between an on-air religious programme that is being telecast from a temple. Such a programme, Sharma spells out, should include an input where devotees shout “Jai Shri Ram” in between, so that the Hindutva agenda is promoted in disguise of an aarati (morning prayer). Sharma seeks to have PTC (piece to camera) programme for this purpose. Agreeing to the fact that devotees create “lots of impact,” Rahul gives the USP of the 9X Tashan: “Ek meri USP aur bhi hai ki hum as per brand requirement brand song bhi create karte hain (We have another USP. We create songs as per brand requirement).” He further explains: “Aapko dekhiye ek poora song create karte hain hum log jismein wahan ke jo leading artist hote hain unhein hire karte hain hum log (You see we create a whole new song and hire leading artists for that).”

Leaving nothing to imagination, Sharma explains his “broad requirement” that he wants to be fulfilled by 9X Tashan for his paid content. His main objective is to cause polarization of voters, along communal lines, during elections. You see, he tells, Ram Janmbhoomi movement has been a watershed for BJP which has catapulted the party to power, from a bare 2 MPs then to 342 MP now. So, create such a content to be aired on Shaheedi Diwas that depicts the martyrdom of 16 Hindu kar sevaks in Ayodhya. You will find all those visuals on BBC web site. Then, we too have such stuff which we will provide you. Create a painful song which likens the martyrdom of kar sevaks with those who were massacred by the British.

Fully understanding what requires to be done, Rahul says they will do it in such a manner as does not create any controversy, which suggests he knows well the pitfalls of such assignments: “Humare paas ek safe side ye hai ki humein ye point lekar chalna hai ki humara message bhi deliver ho humara communication bhi pass on ho political return bhi aaye aur without controversy … banane ka humein koi issue nahi hai main aapke point of view se keh raha hoon ki bas usmein koi controversy angle na aaye kyonki pata chala utna expense bhi ho gaya sab kuch ho gaya pata chala ki koi controversy nikal kar aaye (We should move on a safe side, so that our message is delivered, our communication is passed on [to the viewers] without controversy … we have no issue as far as creating such a content is concerned … but I am suggesting from your point of view that it should not create any controversy … otherwise our effort and expenses incurred by you will go down the drain).”

As the interview progresses, his superior Rajiv Sharma, joins in. Like his colleague, Rajiv is willing to go an extra mile to help achieve the desired effect by creating a buzz. Listen to what Rajiv has to offer: “Aap jo ye points bol rahe hain ismein hum aisa bhi kar sakte hain ki jaisa abhi humne brand songs hum create karte hain toh hum ye jo aapke items hain inke through bhi hum kuchh kar sakte hain. Maan lijiye song create kiya humne aur wo humari property bhi hogi toh hum usko throughout the day promote karenge wo chalega ek bade level pe toh wo ek buzz create kar dega (The points you are telling, we can also do it this way … for example, we create brand songs, we can do the same through your items … suppose we create a song, that song will be our property … we will promote that song throughout the day … this will run on a big level so that it creates a buzz [among the viewers]).”

After finding both senior officials quite amenable to his diabolical proposition, Pushp Sharma wondered if their boss Pradeep Guha too was equally pliable. The CEO of 9X Tashan did not disappoint him when he called on him. In fact, this meeting in the presence of his deputy Rajiv Sharma takes off very smoothly. He is duly briefed in detail how the whole campaign has to be run, right from peddling soft Hindutva in the first three months, to semi-political phase in which political rivals will be vilified by caricaturing them and finally to aggressive Hindutva. While briefing him, Sharma curses those NDTV fellows, who according to him are not comfortable with caricaturing Rahul Gandhi as Pappu, and then flatly asks him if they could do so for him. Guha has no problem with it, as he says: “We have no objection. We will carry whatever …” Guha informs Sharma that caricaturing will be done on the lines of their popular show Chote Bade. Sharma seeks his confirmation again on his agenda by asking him if everything was clear to him. Guha reaffirms: “Absolutely … we have no issues.” Since they have five channels in all and at the rate of Rs. 1 crore a month, Sharma offers them Rs. 15 crore for three months. Proffers Rajiv: “Wo hum work out kar lenge (We will work it out).” Guha asks his colleague to stay in touch with their valued client. At this point, the journalist tells them he wants deliverables to his satisfaction after spending so much money, and if they fail to do say he will not be able to take them along on the next two phases of this campaign. Reassure Guha in these words: “See commercially…at the end of the day it is a commercial deal… and I will not be happy taking money from you and not delivering products that I have promised to you.” Some moments later, he reassures the journalist on deliverables: “Don’t worry about this.” His only worry is payment which he should receive in advance. He makes it clear to Sharma before the meeting is over: “I am not answerable to anybody. The only thing is that because of the certain rules of the industry which is … prepaid … because this will be seen as … political…”

Before taking their leave, Sharma assures Guha that payment will be release 100 percent in advance. To see reactions of concerned person click here

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