Parakala Prabhakar, who had served until recently as communication advisor to former Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP supremo Nara Chandrabu Naidu, is now chairman of Telugu news channel Mahaa TV. An alumnus of JNU and London School of Economics, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's husband Prabhakar tells M.S. Shanker that he is trying to change bad trends set by some Telugu channels. Excerpts:
Why did you decide to take the plunge?
I had been watching the media closely and felt sad about the mad competition to cover politics alone at the cost of people’s issues.
What challenges do you foresee in reviving a news channel seen as close to the TDP, and a laggard among the dozen channels in the two Telugu states?
It is precisely for this reason that I opted to take over this channel and bring in some changes. Now political news will be just 30 per cent of the content; the rest will be about real people’s issues to do with education, health, business, agriculture and so on.
What is your strategy to compete with the top news channels?
Being uniquely different, my package is bound to get the patronage of people. My channel is meant for the entire family, with educative, informative and credible programmes of interest to all age groups. That’s my commitment to people vexed with the present-day 24x7 news channels.
You were once official spokesperson of the BJP’s state unit and your wife is a minister in the BJP-led central government. Many suspect the party could have some hidden agenda to use your channel to strengthen itself in the two Telugu states….
I do criticise the economic policies pursued by the Narendra Modi government. I penned a critical piece, among the first that talked about the economic slowdown. I also opposed the Centre’s hamhanded way of dealing with the protests in JNU.