31 October, 2020

You Won’t See What You Don’t Want To

INX wasn’t a lone wolf op. In the media business, politicians and dubious funds often get into the act, even crossing the lines drawn by the law of the land.

T. Venkattram Reddy of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd
Photograph by Getty Images
You Won’t See What You Don’t Want To

There is something about media companies that attracts scamsters, realtors, politicians and funny money. Three factors are key. One, large sections of the media are plain-and-simple unviable, given low subscription prices and tough markets for adv­ertising revenue. But, a second factor almost neutralises this disadvantage: ownership of the media buys you influence and access to political power. According to one estimate, more than a third of media companies, including TV channels and cable companies, are owned by politicians. Three, weak finances make it easy for funny money—from real estate and businesses with large, illegal cash incomes—to use media companies as the ultimate laundromat for whitening black money. And vice-versa. Some media owners, especially in regional media, even get to masquerade as backers of “investigative” journalism—thinly-disguised threats to use “exposes” to blackmail businesses and politicians into advertising in your media vehicle.

If you knew all this, you would have had no problems understanding...



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