Anil Ambani peeved with NDTV, bars channel from press conference

MUMBAI: The 31st AGM of Reliance Industries (RIL) held in the city today --- the first after the Ambani brothers split --- saw younger sibling Anil Ambani and an NDTV reporter in an altercation.

The incident happened post the AGM - where for the first time Anil Ambani was there as an RIL shareholder and not promoter.   

As Ambani strode out, he was followed by television reporters vying for a sound bite. Something NDTV business editor Shivnath Thukral said as he thrust his microphone towards Ambani seems to have raised Ambani's hackles. He was seen flinging the NDTV microphone aside and in the process Thukral almost lost his footing.

And later in the day, a press conference called by Ambani to announce the formation of two new companies, Global Fuel Management Services and Reliance Communication Ventures Ltd, under the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Enterprises (ADAE) umbrella, had a conspicuous absentee - Thukral.

A senior NDTV source claims that the reason the channel's senior business journalist was absent was because ADAE head of corporate communications Jimmy Mogul had called up Thukral and informed him that NDTV was not invited for the press conference. And the reason for the ban? According to the NDTV source, it was Thukral's poser to Ambani, "Anil Bhai what made you decide to come to the AGM?" that had so angered the ADAE chairman.

A Reliance official, however, said the media was overplaying the incident. "If one does not want to speak to the press, then that is his choice. Also Anil was in an extremely vulnerable and emotional frame of mind, so his reaction is understandable," he said.

Meanwhile, NDTV aired footage today stating Anil Ambani had manhandled the media. Interestingly though, despite the ban, NDTV Profit still aired the happenings of Anil Ambani's media briefing. Queried about this, the NDTV source said, "We carry news, irrespective of the ban and the news came on Bloomberg. We are just doing our duty to inform viewers. It is indeed a sad day for journalism if one decides whom to call or not call on the basis of the questions journalists pose. If that was the case, all that journos have to do is sit back and wait for press releases."

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