I’m a big believer of risk, growth and value. But today something came up from DNA India regarding Times Group‘s involvement in “private treaty” business where media houses link up with corporates for mutual benefit posed some questions to be asked.

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So what is Times Private Treaties?

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Its one of the innovative business model that Media houses have floated which offers branding solutions to companies with cash constraints, allowing them to increase their visibility by leveraging the wide reach and its aggregated consumer base.

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For simpleton like us – its the unholy intention of selling editorial space and readers were not most of the time informed that what is written is what a person/ company has paid to get published  or, in other words, it’s advertising, not dependable journalism.

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Now the moot question is if such treaty is being forged between the Times group (which undoubtedly hold the Indian print media industry bastion) and companies which can influence editorials to an extent, then why isn’t it in public light. Now Times is not the only company in question here; the article suggests that many other media houses are actively involved in such treaty.

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Read this para from the article which clarifies much of the growing resentment:

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Says Arvind Mittal, CEO of the private treaties business at Dainik Bhaskar: “There are two aspects to this. First is the internal discipline of the company — whether they tend to influence editorial. If they do, then that can happen even for cash advertising. So I don’t think that is specific to private treaties. Secondly, there is a Chinese wall in our company between editorial and marketing. In the treaty agreement itself, we mention that there will be no influence on edit. In the day-to-day working also, even if there are any requests, we politely say no. There is no sharing of information with edit.

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All this makes me wonder more that are these media houses acting more like Fascists where they try to influence public opinion by holding back truth.

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Again, going back to the Times treaties agreement, it seems like their website i.e. www.timesprivatetreaties.com, which is open to all (including Timesgroup editorial), had an industry-wise list of companies in which BCCL had investments in. But, this list has since been removed from the website. Huh, how convenient and it says “This page is currently under construction“.

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But nevermind the geekiness, here is the full list of companies of 157 companies that BCCL has inked deals covering almost nearly major industry segments.

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Also noteworthy is the statement in the front page of Times Treaties Website:

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The business model is designed to share risk, accelerate growth through advertising and create value for the brand in the long term. It aims to do so without seeking a management seat or influencing business decisions in the investee companies.

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Now it beats me to think how can a external entity not involved in company’s affairs can influence business decisions. Yes, it is possible thinking about the reach and scope of media houses to influence public perception for sure, if that’s the case.

Though I couldn’t contact any journo or media personality as of now but my gut feel says that this is not the end of this story. More as it unfolds. Though personally I’m waiting for SEBI‘s take on these walled garden approach of Media houses.

Hat-Tip – Asfaq for pointing towards the story and sharing the Cached Link.

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