Television

"Jain TV will be unaffected by my political woes" : Dr J.K. Jain - Jain TV promoter

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To the television industry, Dr JK Jain comes across as a pretty oddball character. The trained medico and blatant RSS and BJP supporter (he was once nominated a member of parliament), started an innovative advertising vehicle, Video on Wheels, followed it up with a television channel Jain TV which ran for two-three years and then folded up. It was revived a couple of years ago and campaigned for the BJP and RSS strongly through shows on its channels. Mention Jain and the BJP party immediately cropped up as a connection.

Today, the two have become estranged. Jain TV has been labelled a Pakistani TV channel. He has been ousted from the party and has started a campaign against the "coterie" - supposedly led by Prime Minister AB Vajpayee‘s principal secretary and national security adviser Brajesh Mishra - in the BJP which is allegedly gunning for him. A bitter Jain has been having conferences nationwide speaking on his cause and trying to get a hearing from the powers-that-be. Politically, DR Jain is up against the government of the day but he remains optimistic as far as the future of his media expansion plans go.

The Indian Cab&Sat Reporter‘s managing editor Thomas Abraham spoke with DR Jain on 10 January about his political problems and the goings-on at the channel. Excerpts:

Have you apprised the prime minister of your problems with Brajesh Mishra and what has been his response?

I asked the Prime Minister when he said he was not aware of my letters to him written over two months about the RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) allegation that I am an ISI agent and Jain TV is a Pakistani organisation, as to who is running this Government.

So what do you plan to do now? With the PM refusing to act on your demands that effectively seals it as far as your case against Mishra goes.

I am waiting for his return from his Southeast Asia trip. Then I will provide documentary proof to the Prime Minister to show that ``when he denied my allegations, he lied.‘‘

Are you saying the Prime Minister intentionally lied to you?

Excuse me, there must be some "communication gap". I actually accused Brajesh Mishra, not Vajpayee, of lying.

It is there on the videorecorders sir. You can review the tapes if you want.

If I said that, then I herewith retract my statement. For the record I would like to state that I meant Brajesh Mishra and not the Prime Minister? It was a slip of the tongue on my part.

Doesn‘t your crusade against Brajesh Mishra indirectly affect the very man you claim to respect so much, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee?

My fight is not with the Prime Minister. However since the man who has access to him holds so much influence in shaping what policies the government frames it is my duty as a responsible citizen to raise my voice.

How come you realised the shortcomings of Mr Mishra only after the RAW report was made public?

You all are journalists and you know better how the profession works. You only file a story after you have gathered all the facts relating to your report.

There is talk that there is a wider agenda involved here. That the hardline section in the party which (home minister) LK Advani represents is using your crusade to get at Vajpayee.

Whatever have been my interactions with the Prime Minister have been based on my personal convictions. Not because I am being prodded by some third quarter. It is true that in one of my meetings with Vajpayeeji, Mr Advani was also present but that was a coincidence.

"JAIN TV's FINANCIAL SITUATION WILL BE UNAFFECTED BY MY GOVERNMENT-RELATED PROBLEMS"

So have you had any indications from the PM as to what his stand is on the whole situation which is after all an embarrassment for everyone concerned.

Vajpayeeji had more or less made it clear in our last meeting I would be absolved of the charges if I withdraw my Jagte Raho (awakening) programme - a series that takes a hardline stance against the government‘s measures on striking what he feels is a flawed at the outset peace pact with Pakistan on Kashmir - on my channel. It is a question of my fundamental rights to expose.

Talking of exposes, how can a (former) functionary of a political party objectively raise media issues?

Don't you see a natural conflict of interest here?

I may be a politician, but Jain TV is a media organisation with all its duties and responsibilities. I do not want a certificate of patriotism from the Government but the blemish on me has to be erased. What about Mahatma Gandhi? The Mahatma was politically committed but also had his own newspaper. Mine is a similar mission in nation building.

If you‘re so convinced that the government is taking the country on the road to disaster shouldn‘t you be asking Vajpayee and his government to step down? You demanded the same of the previous government if I recall correctly.

See, I do still believe that Vajpayeeji is still the best man for the job. He is being misguided and it is my duty to draw attention to it. My differences with the government is on the matter of policies, not personalities. The issues at stake here are of national security and an Indian‘s right to live with dignity and freedom of the media.

Moving aside from your political problems, how is Jain Television faring? Now that the government will not be advertising on the channel, won‘t revenues be affected?

See the fundamentals of my business are sound and we are making profits as any perusal of the financial statements which the company releases will show. Our third quarter results have been good but I can‘t give you figures offhand. As for the ad revenue part of it, I was not getting government advertising to begin with so where is the question of my financial situation after ads were withdrawn.

So what are your immediate plans for Jain Television? Any projects in the pipeline?

Jain TV is just one of my interests. We‘re getting into the Internet business in a big way and are very keen to develop e-commerce activities. We‘re also going ahead with our broadband plans and we‘re already providing feeds to a number of clients.

What about DTH (Direct-to-Home transmission)? You‘d earlier been one of the players who‘d shown interest in starting your own service. Star Television has just announced it is going ahead although they‘re unhappy with the government‘s insistence on a 20 per cent cap on foreign equity participation.

The government has failed to clearly set forth guidelines on DTH and till that is in place we will not be committing ourselves. Even the application forms are yet to be issued so how are we to go ahead. As far as I am aware it has not accepted any applications as of now. We are certainly interested but it‘s early days yet. Regarding Star‘s plans, they had made big announcements three years ago and we‘re still waiting.

You wanted to set up an earth station. Have you got permission yet?

We‘ve taken up 12 acres of land in Noida (outskirts of New Delhi) and a teleport is already functioning there. We‘re definitely on track on that front.

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