INX takes ET to task, alleging irresponsible journalism

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | September 26, 2008
INX refutes claims made in a front page story, which reported that Balaji Telefilms would buy a stake in 9X

On & #BANNER1 & # September 25, the business newspaper, The Economic Times, carried a front page story on the possibility of Balaji Telefilms buying a stake in 9X. INX Media has taken offence to the report, stating that the news is completely baseless and false.

In her story, the journalist stated that INX Media was in negotiation with the television production house, Balaji Telefilms, to divest significant stake in its general entertainment channel, 9X. She also said that Peter Mukerjea, chairman, INX Media, declined to comment on the stated development.

For the record, Indrani Mukerjea, founder and chief executive officer, INX Media, and Peter hold 50 per cent stake in INX Media, with the balance held by private equity firms such as Temasek Holdings, New Silk Route, New Vernon Private Equity Fund, Kotak Mahindra Capital. The story also suggested that the promoters are not happy with the performance of 9X.

Indrani Mukerjea

Peter Mukerjea
Speaking to afaqs!, Indrani says, "No one has the right to do such things. Such reportage is a result of bad research and a result of writing a story solely based on rumours and baseless gossip. The story has achieved nothing, but caused embarrassment to the newspaper. Such journalism is uncalled for and writing columns without checking relevant facts is nothing but bad reporting."

INX Media has come out strongly against the alleged false facts and developments reported in the story. Seeking clarification and a fitting corrigendum by the newspaper, it has expressed its displeasure over the report in a letter to Bodhisatva Ganguli, editor, The Economic Times.

In the official letter, INX Media has raised questions over several issues and categorically denied the facts reported in the story.

INX Media states that no talks were held with Balaji Telefilms, at any point in time, for acquiring any degree of stake in 9X. It also says that there has been no delay or stalling of a second tranche of funds by the investors of the channel, as has been reported in the story. Another statement concluding that the promoters of the channel - Indrani and Peter - were unhappy with the performance of 9X is completely baseless and mischievous, it says.

The promoters have also taken strong offence to the misrepresentation of the direct quote attributed to Peter, where the reporter claimed that Peter "declined to comment on the issue". Instead, they say, Peter had categorically clarified, saying, "This is completely untrue, and I would not like to comment any further on such speculation."

Indrani points out, "The facts stated in the story are completely baseless and untrue. The reporter has completely misquoted Peter. There is a huge difference between someone clearly stating that the news is untrue and a statement that the individual in question refused to comment. The journalist responsible for the story has to come out with a strong and fitting apology. At the end of the day, besides myself and Peter, no one else has the right to decide whether we, as promoters, are unhappy with the performance of the channel."

She further says that being the promoters, it was for her and Peter to lay the benchmarks for judging the performance of the channel and its employees. It is for them to decide whether the deliverables by the concerned identity are satisfactory or not.

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