Last week, the Telangana High court granted anticipatory bail to Ravi Prakash, former CEO of Associated Broadcasting Company Pvt Limited, the parent company of the TV9 group, in connection with the three criminal cases booked against him by Hyderabad police. The court asked him to appear before the investigating officers every alternate day.
T S Sudhir of Filter Kaapi Live spoke to Ravi Prakash about the status of the legal cases, the controversy surrounding MOJO TV and his future plans in the world of media.
Sudhir : The anticipatory bail must be a huge relief.
Ravi Prakash : Yes, subsequent to getting the anticipatory bail, I am trying to complete some formalities now. My passport is still with the new management. Even my personal belongings and medicines.
Sudhir : Why?
Ravi : I had kept them in my room in my office at TV9. They (the new owners) have the access to it now. They think they own Telangana.
Sudhir : Is the police questioning still on?
Ravi : It is still continuing. We are trying to get the fake cases quashed by the High court. My petition is coming up next on 10 August. Sivaji (Telugu actor and friend of Ravi Prakash) also has secured a not-to-arrest order. The other case pertaining to my 8.25 per cent ownership in ABCL also came up before the NCLT in Delhi yesterday.
Sudhir : MOJO TV, in which you had a stake is also in the midst of a controversy with the arrest of P Revathi, former CEO. Do you see it as linked to your case or independent of what is happening in your case?
Ravi : I, with the help of some friends, invested Rs 22.5 crore in MOJO TV. The channel has been on air for one and a half years now. These people took over MOJO TV through the backdoor. I had parked my money in goodwill in the name of Hari Kiran Chereddi, who is the director of MOJO TV. They threatened him and he wrote off the shares in their name. So without spending a single rupee, Alanda Media’s benamis now own MOJO TV.
Then they started mounting pressure on Revathi, who was the CEO, to resign. She went on live television, putting out the facts of the case and explaining what was happening within the channel. The channel signal was shut down for 15 hours. All this happened two and a half months back and now the Union Home ministry is enquiring why the signal was blocked.
Sudhir : But the case in which Revathi was arrested on Friday pertains to a SC/ST case where she and another anchor Raghu were accused of humiliating an activist by calling him by his caste name.
Ravi : That is a six months old case. She was forced to resign, using this case. The Banjara Hills ACP was rather proactive in threatening the MOJO TV staff. Twelve employees of the channel who hail from Telangana were transferred to districts in Andhra Pradesh.
Sudhir : So you are saying this was to take complete control of MOJO TV?
Ravi : The agenda is to grab media in Telangana. No media should write or broadcast anything negative about them. With their accomplices, they have grabbed land and wealth and the idea is to ensure there is no voice outside their control. As far as MOJO TV is concerned, last two days there has been no power supply there. The plan is to kill the channel with harassment.
Sudhir : In the midst of all this, there were also Income Tax raids on the My Home group which is the entity that now controls TV9 through Alanda Media. There has been speculation that there is a Ravi Prakash hand in it or that the Centre is using the agency to mount indirect pressure on the TRS government in Telangana since My Home group is known to be close to the ruling party’s leadership.
Ravi : On record, I can only say that the Income Tax officials are probing different angles including the funding of political parties.
Sudhir : There is also a report in local media that you are floating a new television channel that will be pro-BJP.
Ravi : What appeared on that gossip mongering website is not true. No journalist is sold to a political party. I have my own plans and I will come out with them in August. I plan to start a Television channel, a newspaper and a web platform.
Sudhir : Will these be in the Telugu language?
Ravi : I still have a presence in three African countries. I will not be confined to the Telugu space. It will be on the global platform. The mistake that many editor-proprietors did was to stick around in Hyderabad and got embroiled in regional politics. I want to go beyond that. I have the experience of 15 years and I am confident that I will make fewer mistakes this time. What I build now will be with a global perspective.
Sudhir : But given the political angle to your present troubles, how much truth is there to a possible pro-BJP tilt to your proposed ventures?
Ravi : I have connections with all political parties. As a journalist, I meet everyone but I maintain equidistance from all. Subramanian Swamy said a couple of days back that Congress is needed for democracy in India. So even a right-wing person is saying that.