Hyderabad, April 21: After successfully spreading its tentacles in the real estate, textiles, tobacco and other businesses, the well-organised mafia is now eyeing to control the media business in Hyderabad.
With elections round the corner, several businessmen, with shady pasts, are gearing up to either launch new news channels or gain control over the existing channels by making huge investments. However, sources say that the businessmen are just the front men of mafia, which is planning to control the content that goes on air during elections. Interestingly, the mafia is interested in Urdu media and might launch new Urdu news/infotainment channels.
Analysts say that launching a cable channel at the time of elections will prove to be a profitable equation. It needs about Rs 50 lakh of investment for the basic set-up; another Rs 50-55 lakh towards Carriage Fee for the MSO and about Rs 5 lakh per month or nearly Rs 50-60 lakh as Working Capital for one year. Therefore, with an investment of about Rs 2 crore, one can comfortably launch and run a cable channel for one year. With nearly 25 Assembly segments in and around Hyderabad, the promoters can easily generate revenues of nearly Rs 5 crore through political advertising or paid coverage.
More than profits, the mafia men are aiming to strengthen their political clout by supporting particular candidates in each constituency. This relationship will help them in future dealings in other sectors like the real estate or getting other projects.
Sources say that the members of mafia have already made huge investments in some news channels. The investments were routed through fake or even genuine companies having existing businesses in real estate or textiles sectors. Besides making fresh investments, the mafia is also ensuring that they face no competition from the genuine media houses.
The local cable market is covertly “controlled” by one particular group with strong political backing. Sources say that “strict and clear instructions” have been issued to the leading MSOs in the city asking them to reject any proposal for a Urdu news channel. Since the cable business runs on cables that pass through each lane and by-lane and operators will have to bear heavy losses if some miscreants cut them, the MSOs are simply rejecting the proposals of new news channels. Else, they are asking for huge carriage fee that an ordinary and genuine media organisation will never be able to pay. Apparently for the same reason many genuine media organisations are unable to launch their news channels in the city.
Therefore, the news content that the audience, especially Urdu speaking people, will be watching during elections will be completely designed as per the tastes of mafia. Analysts say that the Income Tax Department and other agencies should raid the news channel offices to trace the origination of investments and it would unmask the real investors behind those channels.