On CNBC, corporate crime 'Uncovered'

MUMBAI: Though crime shows across channels have shown sustained TRPs; one has not seen much footage on corporate crime and consumer fraud in the country. What happens when companies go bust after the initial ballistic high? What happens to investors' money when companies do the vanishing act? Stocks that are not allocated, fake drugs manufactured and sold in the retail market, price fixing and manipulated stock market highs.

One is here talking of savings fraud, white-collar crimes, corporate frauds, economic offences and scams amounting to public corruption. These are not violent crimes, as a street crime; be it murder or rape but many would agree that corporate crime is a 'silent killer' inflicting violence on the lives of people, and leaving the economy bleeding of billions of rupees.

Business news channel CNBC TV18 is all set to roll out a new show Uncovered, which promises to cover all this and much more. The weekly, half-hour show, which premiers tonight (5 November) at 8:30 pm, will track a hard hitting story every week; investigate the crime perpetrated on investors and consumers and talk about the economic offences that are assuming serious proportions in the country. The show tries to go in search of criminals, reveal their modus operandi, question the authorities on their failure to curb crime and then suggest ways in which the consumer can fight back.

Elaborating on the format of the new show, head marketing, CNBC TV18, Ajay Chacko, says "the show will not have an element of gossip or drama around it and it's not competing with other crime shows in the market. We look at two broad aspects - one is corporate crime, and the other aspect is fake drugs, to counterfeiting of trademarks, insider trading, stock manipulation, fraud billing, and excessive billing, unsettled insurance claims."

Chaco adds, "The idea is to find out the nature of the problem, the scale at which it operates. The manufacturing of fake drugs itself would cost more than Rs 3000 crores (Rs 30 billion) to the drug manufacturers."

The show promises to give an insider scoop to things which are regularly known by people but are perhaps too difficult to report. With systematically identified sectors, specific issues have been dealt with keeping the consumer angle in mind. Apart from the repercussions of using a bad shampoo or a fake drug on consumers, the losses incurred by companies, the show also gets the law enforcing machinery into the loop.

So, will the channel be taking names, exposing scams and investigating old ones like say the Harshad Mehta scam? "Well, there are too many new scams to explore, says editor, consumer affairs, Vivek Law. "Names will be taken if need be, because the idea here is not just to sensationalise, but to be pretty handy and practical which goes with the CNBC style of reportage."

But viewers can definitely expect a lot of drama on-air, with criminals being tracked on board with cold raw footage brought in from the manufacturing dens. One issue will be tackled per episode to bring out the nature of the problem and an attempt made to find a solution.

Adds Law, "We've spoken to criminals who've duped millions of rupees off the economy. These are caught by the police machinery and let off on bail the next day."

"Powerful and accountable names will definitely be in the studios. And if a guy has cheated you, we show you the guy who has cheated you."

Refusing to divulge any of the companies `uncovered', with four episodes all ready and packed in, the channel has the entire work force in terms of reporters available as and when required for the show. Promising to be the first of its kind, the channel had a few pilots before finalising the format.

With a law machinery that is extremely poor as far as consumer rights are concerned, the show will discuss the recourses available for consumers if they are cheated. But will it be in the business of tracking down corporate crooks?

Explains Vivek, "We're not in a live mode and many of the criminals are absconding. Also, it's not really a witch-hunt show. Not glamorous but a matter-of-fact kind of show. We talk about the problem, supported with a lot of research, instead of highlighting or targeting one particular company. Awareness builds pressure. We expect people to become more vigilant and the police machinery to gear up."



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