Initial investigation stated that many Ministries may be involved in supplying important secret documents of the government to the corporate to make them aware of the changes in the government before even the policies are implemented, so that companies have time to change their strategies to take advantage of upcoming policies. This also included manipulating of bids in the government contracts as well as managing the share market to make profits.
The present case involves ministry officials and three other middlemen for allegedly leaking classified government documents to energy companies for money. Late night raids were conducted on offices of some of these firms. So far only the lower staff has been caught but it is beyond comprehension that only a peon was involved in dealing with the top honchos of the corporate and no senior bureaucrat was involved. A peon or a clerk may not even understand importance of a document and also what new policy framework is in the making.
The aim of such activities is to get the latest information on what new policies are being framed, what changes are being made in the procedures for government contracts, get information about activities of other rival companies regarding their dealings with the government.
In the recent past, we have seen many such cases including the 2G scam for spectrum allotment and Coalgate scam for allotting coal mines to the corporate, in which even the former PM, Sh Manmohan Singh is also being questioned.
Broadcasting industry cannot be left out of this rut as since its inception, there have been many cases of manipulation of policies to help some corporate or another. Prior information of government policies and notifications also help companies to modify their structure or make joint ventures to get monetary benefits. Forming of Media- Pro, a joint venture between two of the biggest rivals in the industry just before digitization and the policy for large mergers was to be enacted , is alleged to be an example of this manipulation with the help of government officials.
Policy of mandatory digitization to be implemented on 130 million cable TV households in the country within a short and impossible span of two years is also considered the result of such a nexus between the Ministry officials, politicians and the corporate.
Everyone in the broadcasting industry knows that the stakes are very high. With 160 million TV sets in the country, only the STB activation fee will fetch Rs 16000 Crores in the MSOs kitty within two to three years without even selling a single STB. The savings on the STB capex in taxes and depreciation itself runs in hundreds of crores.
Pay channels are the biggest beneficiary of this new system. There are 200 pay channels out of 830 registered with the government. They all hope to squeeze more subscription every month from the 16 crore cable and DTH connections. It is a known fact that all regulations are favouring these few pay channels and their affiliated companies. The bureaucrats who draft policies, take the help of these large companies in making the policies. On paper, it may be industry organizations like CII and FICCI who are helping the government but these organizations are run by members from these companies.
Who does not know how at the beginning of implementation of Digitisation, the top bureaucrats including Secretary I&B, Chairman TRAI and Chairman of CCI went to the US along with top honchos of a large international Media Group (called as FICCII delegation) on the plea to understand the regulatory mechanism. Results after the trip are visible all over in the industry now.
Although Modi government has assured strict action against those who have been caught, what about the others who still continue to gain unauthorized access to government’s classified information to help the corporate? Can it really be curbed when those involved are asked to curb it?