Ajay Singh, co-founder and owner of SpiceJet, and the man who coined BJP’s 2014 election catchphrase, Ab Ki Baar Modi Sarkar, is all set to take over the NDTV.
In a report published by Indian Express, a source confirmed the news, “Yes, the deal has been finalised and Ajay Singh will take control of NDTV along with editorial rights.”
The report further added that once the deal goes through, Singh will have controlling stake in NDTV of around 40 per cent and the promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy will hold around 20 per cent in the company.
The data available with BSE shows that the promoter holding in NDTV as of June 2017 stood at 61.45 per cent. Public shareholding in the company stands at 38.55 per cent. The source said that Ajay Singh will also pick up NDTV’s debt of over Rs 400 crore and the total deal is valued at around Rs 600 crore.
However a SpiceJet official rubbished the reports of Singh taking over the channel. NDTV has not reacted yet on the development.
The channel has been facing CBI probe allegedly concealing a share transaction. In June the federal probe agency had raided the houses of Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy.
The development caused a considerable furore both in India and abroad as media from around the globe provided prominent coverage with many calling it a blow to press freedom in India. The New York Times even dedicated an editorial on the CBI raids by concluding that ‘the raids mark an alarming new level of intimidation of India’s news media under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.’
The raids on Roys’ houses had taken place just days after one of the anchors working for the channel had asked a BJP spokesperson to leave the show. Nidhi Razdan had told Patra to leave the show if he did not apologise after he accused the NDTV of spreading misinformation with an agenda.
In July, the channel was reported to have fired over 70 staff, mostly in technical department, as part of cost cutting exercise.