Essel to pump in Rs 1 billion into UNI over next 2 years

NEW DELHI: Essel Group chairman and media baron Subhash Chandra today challenged those criticising his buying of a 51 per cent equity in news agency United News of India (UNI) to put their money where their mouth is.

"If anybody else, including the government, feels that he can work towards revival and expansion of UNI, then I'll be happy. I will gladly give up majority shareholding too in that person's favour," Chandra told journalists here.
As an indication of his genuine interest in reviving the financially beleaguered news agency, Chandra gave an assurance that the Essel group would pump in Rs 1 billion over the next two years into UNI to upgrade infrastructure and acquire cutting edge technology.

"We have identified gaps (read shortcomings) in UNI and are trying to address them along with the other shareholders of the organisation," Chandra said.

Essel's picking up of 51 per cent shareholding in UNI by Mediavest India Pvt Ltd, an investment vehicle floated by Chandra, last month has been greeted by howls of protest from political parties, journalists and the UNI employees' union.
Chandra paid approximately Rs 320 million for a majority stake in the news agency. Other shareholders of the agency include media companies like The Times of India Group, Ananda Bazar Patrika, Hindustan Times, The Statesman, Dainik Bhaskar and Indian Express.

Chandra also assured some journalists from UNI present at the press conference and others in general that there would be "no forced retrenchment."

However, a proper human resources development department will be put in place to work out voluntary retirement schemes and other initiatives related to employee redeployment and employment.

"We have hired a techno commercial person today only to upgrade and strengthen the technology available to UNI employees," Chandra said, adding that the hunt was on for professionals in other departments of the news agency too.

According to him, "My interest in UNI is not to make money (the structure of UNI is such that all the revenue earned is to be ploughed back into the organisation itself), but to uphold the objectives of the founding fathers of UNI, which includes having plurality of information in the country from credible platforms."

Pointing out that his vision is to turn UNI into a global and competitive news agency providing a spectrum of services, Chandra said Essel Group (owners of Zee Telefilms amongst a host of other media and entertainment related companies) will "leverage" its global media contacts to work for the betterment of UNI.

Scotching rumours that Zee Telefilms and his other media companies would end up having a direct synergy with UNI, Chandra said, "In life there comes a time when a person looks beyond earning money and doing things for personal satisfaction. I'm doing that. If somebody feels he or she can do better than me, then such people are most welcome to take charge of UNI's revival."

Mediavest was amongst the three bidders for unsubscribed shares of UNI whose other shareholders agreed to bring on board the Essel Group in early September.

To a specific question whether Mediavest would mop up some remaining preferential shares in case other shareholders shy away, Chandra replied in the affirmative.

"If nobody else subscribes to those shares, then we'll pick them up," he said, adding that such a move would take Mediavest's holding in UNI up to approximately 58 per cent.

Chandra also made it clear that "mis-informed people" with vested interests are undertaking a "disinformation campaign" dubbing his company's arrival on the scene as a total sale of the news agency to one single entity.

"We have just joined the board of directors and are ready to discuss across the table any issue with anybody from UNI. But I cannot help it if some people continue to hallucinate," he said.

UNI was launched in March 1961. Today, it claims to be serving more than 1,000 subscribers in more than 100 locations in India and abroad. They include newspapers, radio and television networks, web sites, government offices and private and public sector corporations.

UNI has collaboration agreements with several foreign news agencies, including Reuters and DPA whose stories are distributed to media organisations in India through the Indian agency.

UNI's wire service is available in three languages, English, Hindi and Urdu. While the Hindi service Univarta was started in 1982, the Urdu service debuted in 1992.

Latest Reads
IRAA Awards Now accepting nominations

In its 12th consecutive year, the Indian Recording Arts Academy Awards (IRAA) 2018 will be hosted alongside the PALM Expo 2018 at the Bombay Exhibition Centre. The awards will once again recognize exceptional skills in music, soundtrack recording and mixing in Indian music for albums and movies.

Television TV Channels GECs
Network 18 PAT at Rs 114 million

Network18 Media & Investments (Network18) reported a marked improvement in its numbers for the quarter ended 31 December 2017. The consolidated revenue (net of revenue from joint ventures and associates) for the company declined marginally by 1.8 per cent year-on-year (yoy) to Rs 3660 million...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Get Intriguing Insights into the human mind with 'Meet the Humans' on Sony BBC Earth

If you think human behavior is predictable, think again. In ‘Meet the Humans’, a show on Sony BBC Earth, starting January 22, at 8pm, a trio of experts led by Dr. Michael Mosely take a microscopic look at the human behavior and discover how incredibly unpredictable and complex humans are.

Television TV Channels Factual & Documentary
TV18 profits decline in third quarter

TV18 Broadcast Ltd (TV18), the subsidiary of the Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani-controlled Network18 Media and Investments Ltd (Network 18), reported consolidated total income of Rs 103.6 million for the quarter ended 31 December 2017 (Q3-18) as compared with income of Rs 236.8 million for the...

Television TV Channels GECs
Applause Entertainment to produce series on 2016 surgical strikes

MUMBAI: Applause Entertainment is making all the right moves.

Television Production House Non-Fiction
Sony Six rakes in ad rev from BBL despite slow start

MUMBAI: The second most popular domestic T20 cricket tournament in the world after Indian Premier League (IPL) is Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL). The Cricket Australia rights, which were with Star India from 2011-12 to 2016-17, have now been acquired by Sony Pictures Network (SPN) India for the...

Television TV Channels Sports
Star India gets aggressive with global programme syndication sales

MUMBAI: Leading Indian media and entertainment major Star India is quite confident that its new catalogue of historical dramas and contemporary soaps and series will gain traction as it continues with its international syndication drive.

Television TV Channels GECs
Season 8 of the drama-packed reality cooking series, MasterChef U.S. premieres on Star World

Viewers are in for a delectable treat as world renowned celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay returns to the small screen along with celebrated American chef and television personality Aaron Sanchez and chef, author and television personality Christina Tosi in the latest season of MasterChef U.S. that will...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
Star and BCCI pull out all stops to make the VIVO IPL 2018 Retention event - an unprecedented success

The VIVO IPL 2018 Retention event, broadcast for the first time in its 10-year history, had cricket lovers riveted across television sets and mobile devices and set social media abuzz with mentions and conversations that came close to rivalling those of full-fledged T20 India matches.

Television TV Channels Sports

Latest News

Load More

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories