It’s been more than a month since industrial giant Reliance Industries took over Network18 Group, which runs a suite of television channels including the CNN and CNBC affiliates in India. Everyone has wondered if the company owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani would interfere in the news-gathering operations of its new properties.
The answer appears to be yes.
Last week, a day after founding editor Rajdeep Sardesai emailed his resignation to the staff, a small group of executives from Reliance (RIL) held a town hall in the suburban New Delhi offices of CNN IBN, the English news channel. Journalists from sister channels, such as CNBC TV18, Hindi news channel IBN7 and the Marathi version IBN Lokmat, were also present, according to at least two accounts of that meeting.
Until that day—the meeting was held on July 7 around 5:30pm—RIL’s takeover had been notable for a transition that was unremarkable, very much business as usual. Now, employees gathered to hear the new management’s vision.