September 28, 2020
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Wheels within wheels and dirty deals, phone taps and the whole rap.

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They are calling it wheels within wheels. Actually, you will have to interpret it as spies within spies. When Samajwadi Party head Mulayam Singh Yadav talked of a large number of opposition leaders' phones being tapped, not many took notice. And that was expected. But it was the the Director General of Intelligence Bureau (IB) who took the cake by calling the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) head, N. Vittal, and telling him he had an apprehension that his very own phone was being tapped. The news leaked out and caused panic among a large number of business houses in the Indian Capital who immediately instructed their power brokers/ trouble shooters not to call on the regular lines to discuss business and to, instead, lie low for at least a fortnight.

The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has raised some questions on the selection procedure of the state-owned Oil and Natural Gas (ONGC) chairman and managing director. While IOC HR and PR director Subir Raha was angling for the post and had support from some influential quarters, the PMO - it's reliably learnt - wants the entire process to be revaluated and to check the locus standi of two candidates - ONGC Videsh CMD Atul Chandra and Director General, Hydrocarbons, Avinash Chandra. The PMO has also asked the Public Sector Enterprises Board (PSEB) as to why Avinash Chandra did not appear for the PSEB interview and why did he write a letter to PMO (saying there was no point in attending the interview because the result was a foregone conclusion).

Ramesh Gelli of Global Trust Bank may deny anything but the news is that a SEBI (Securities & Exchange Board of India) report to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) says Nirma owner Karsenbhai Patel, Adani Exports and Ketan Parekh own 4.9 per cent stake each of the bank (nearly 15 per cent) and that the troika violated the takeover code and indulged in price rigging. SEBI officials claim the report has been sent to the Finance Ministry for further action.

Is Sony Entertainment Television (SET) in tension over its much-hyped programme Chappad Phad Ke? Perhaps yes. Otherwise, why is it that the Sony top brass would meet last week in Mumbai and ponder over dwindling TRPs and decide whether there was time to change the format or anchor? Finally, it was decided that Govinda may not be replaced but a few more changes could be incorporated to make the programme acquire a "suave" touch. And this is surprising, because SET has always harped on its downtown image and tomtommed about the same when asked why Govinda was hired for the show. Anyway, a small team has been formed in the programming division to see the weak areas of the show and what possible changes can be made. And when the changes will come is anyone's guess, considering the fact that the programme has already been shot and canned till June, 2001.

Some of the best names in corporate India have fallen flat in their efforts to have a go at the media but the interest still remains. The latest to join the fray is Kumaramanglam Birla's Rs 8,000 crore conglomerate (never mind if the group's main focus is alumunium). The group wants to get into television programming and has started scouting for people. The group's initial plan is to produce software for channels and later explore the possibility of owning one.The group has also asked for a feasibility report from Arthur Andersen on the same. But why Arthur Andersen? Probably because the management consultancy firm's recent report on the state of the Indian entertainment industry was one of the finest.

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