The media world was stirred up recently when the CBI raided NDTV’s Prannoy Roy’s house in an alleged connection to causing a loss of Rs. 48 crore to ICICI.
However, what many people do not know is that Prannoy Roy has an old association with CBI. Wondering what is it? Read further.
It all began sometime in 1998 when the CBI filed an FIR against New Delhi Television (NDTV) Managing Director, Prannoy Roy, former Director General of Doordarshan and present Chief Executive Officer of Star TV, R Basu and and five other top officials of Doordarshan.
The CBI had filed a criminal conspiracy case against these men on the basis of a “source information” saying that the undue favor granted to Roy had led to a loss of approximately Rs 5 crore to Doordarshan. The FIR named Ashok Mansukhani, the then Deputy Director General (DDG) of Doordarshan, Harish Awasthi (DDG), Shiv Sharma, the then Director General (DG), S Kapoor, the then DG, S Krishnan, the then DG, Prannoy Roy, Managing Director NDTV and the television network, too.
Special CBI judge, Ajit Bharihoke, alleged that the officials entered into a criminal conspiracy at New Delhi between 1990-1996 with Roy and abused their positions. According to the reports, Doordarshan suffered a Rs. 3.52 crore loss due to “undue favors” shown towards NDTV’s program, The World This Week, which was put in category ‘A’ instead of special category ‘A’.
The FIR also mentioned that there was huge gap between the commission rate of the two categories. For the former category it was Rs. 80,000 and for the latter, it was Rs.1.70 lakh. The time slot for sponsors in the two categories was also 90 seconds and 120 seconds, respectively.
The TWTW continued as a commissioned program till April 1996, leading to a heavy loss to Doordarshan.
The interesting twist in the story came when, in 2004, NDTV’s prospectus mentioned that no FIR was filed against NDTV or Roy. It read,
The Company and its promoters have also been named in an First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in January 1998 against certain DD officials in relation to certain violations of rules by DD officials pertaining to certain programmes produced by the Company for telecast by DD. Till date, no case has been instituted against the Company based on the investigation carried out pursuant to the FIR.
The CBI inquiry was instituted at the behest of Sushma Swaraj who was the I&B minister at that time. It is very bizarre to know that the status of the above-mentioned case is not known.
It was believed that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government did not pay much attention to the CBI inquiry and, later, gave permission to NDTV to run the channel.