MUMBAI: The Network18 office in Empire Mills Complex, in central Mumbai had some new visitors on 8 July 2014. Alok Agrawal who has been appointed as group COO of Network18, non-executive director Rohit Bansal and Reliance Industries Ltd's media director Umesh Upadhyay held a town hall meeting with the entire staff of TV18 that includes CNN-IBN, IBN7, IBN Lokmat and History TV18.
Attendees say it was a feel-good meeting and to reassure the employees about RIL's honorable intentions for them all. The employees were told that the megacorp has full faith in them and hence had invested in the Network18 group and the objective was to make it a global brand.
“There is no oil beneath your ground, if you are concerned about our motive,” is what one of them was heard to have said. Narrating an incident of the day founder Raghav Bahl finalised the deal, one of the members said, “Raghav on that day told the RIL executives that he had brought up the company to Rs 5000 crore and now you see if you can take it to Rs 50,000 crore.”
They were further told that going forward the road ahead would be shared with them. “It has been only 30 hours since the announcement of us acquiring Network18 has been made,” said one of them. “But you should know that 4G is very important for us as in the future smart phones are going to become very powerful. We are all happy that Raghav (Bahl) is continuing to give his support to the company.”
A similar meeting had taken place a day earlier with the employees in the head office in Delhi where special assurance was given to the CNBC TV-18 employees that "they need not fear publishing any story." Employees in both places were told that they can even report about RIL but not publish stories without any facts.
One of the executives said that the main point in the whole RIL-Network18 deal was an exchange between two people (referring to Mukesh Ambani and Bahl) but everything else stays the same.
A source from RIL says that the exercise is being conducted so that employees are personally met and assured rather than have them believe false rumours through the media. A few more meetings are expected to be held in the coming days.