Asian News International
Asian News International (ANI) is an Indian news agency based in R.K Puram, New Delhi that offers syndicated multimedia news feed to plethora of news-bureaus in India and beyond. Established by Prem Prakash, it was the first agency in India to syndicate video news and as of 2019[update], is the biggest news agency in India.
|Industry||Media, news media|
|Founded||December 9, 1971New Delhi, Indiain|
|India, South Asia|
|Owner||ANI Media Private Limited|
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Establishment and early years (1971-2000)Edit
Prem started his career in the field of photography, before being employed by Visnews (as well as Reuters) as a photojournalist, where he went on to cover some of the most significant historical events in post-Independence India. A significant figure in the domain of news and documentary film-making in the 1970s, he commanded considerable respect among foreign journalists and film-makers, and were conferred with the MBE.
In 1971, Prem established ANI (then, TVNF, India’s first television news feature agency) which gained extraordinary influence within the Congress Government. TVNF played a key role in fulfilling Indira Gandhi's wishes of showcasing a positive image of India, having produced numerous films for Doordarshan, and went on to gain a monopoly in the sector.
Smita Prakash, an alumna of Indian Institute of Mass Communication joined ANI in around 1986 as an intern and was later inducted as a full-time employee. Daughter of Inna Ramamohan Rao, former director of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, she married Prem's son Sanjiv in 1988 which furthered ANI's access within the government. The Caravan notes that for decades, ANI effectively served as the external publicity division of Ministry of External Affairs, showing the Army in a positive light and suppressing news about any internal discontent; the private nature of the organisation and the repute of its founder gave an air of non-partisan legitimacy to their videos. During the peak-spans of militancy in Kashmir Conflict, ANI was the near-sole purveyor of video-footage, esp. with Rao having been recruited as the media advisor to the state.
In 1993, Reuters purchased a stake in ANI, and it was allowed to exert a complete monopoly over Reuters feed as to India.
Later years (2000-present)Edit
Along the 90s, Sanjiv had a meteoric rise through the ranks (along with Smita) with his shrewd managerial instincts. By 2000, India had seen a boom of private 24X7 news channels; however, unsustainable revenue models meant that they did not have the capacity to hire video-reporters across the country. This provided the scope for a massive expansion of ANI's domestic video-production capacities. Asian Films TV was incorporated in 2000 to provide feed for newspapers and periodicals. The Caravan though notes that most of its foot-soldiers were low-cost recruits, who had little to do with journalism.
In 2000, the NDA government launched a Kashmir-based regional channel—DD Kashir, and ANI was allowed to produce its programs. By the end of 2005, ANI's business-model was faring impressively on a consistent basis and it shifted its office out of Gole Market, to a new five-storey building in R.K. Puram. ANI continued to be trusted by the upcoming UPA governments, to the extent of MEA choosing Smita to be a part of the two-member-strong contingent of Indian journalists at both of the joint press conferences between the incumbent prime ministers of India and USA. ANI is also believed to have played significant roles as allies of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency; many of its videos depicted protests by fringe lobby groups and activists, on the aspects of human rights abuse in Pakistan.
In later 2000s, increasing charges of ANI feed and low quality of journalism coupled with the introduction of broadcast vans led to several national and regional channels unsubscribing them. In 2010, UNI TV was launched by Yashwant Deshmukh as a competitor and it gave stiff competition. However, Ishan Prakash, Smita's son who joined the company in 2011, procured multiple units of LiveU, a pioneer technology which were an advancement over OB vans and far more portable. The agency also expanded its overseas bureaus and enlisted into contracts with multiple state governments and multiple union ministries. A monopoly was again re-created and most of its competitors shut down, eventually. By late 2011, ANI accounted for about 99% of the Reuters feed and in FY 2017–18, they were paid ₹ 2.54 crore for the services.
Under a new management, ANI has been accused of practicing an even-aggressive journalism model focused at maximum revenue output, where journalists were easily dispensable with. Archive videos were sold at rates as high as ₹ 1000 per second; in FY 2017–18, the firm reported revenues of ₹ 68.23 crore and a net profit of ₹ 9.91 crore. Multiple employees have accused ANI of not having any human resource management system and ill-treating their ex-employees. The Caravan as well as The Ken notes of the agency to have grown even closer to the government after Bharatiya Janata Party was elected to power in 2014; its effects have ranged from sympathetic covering of the BJP party-campaigns to the farthest possible extent to reporters being highly confrontational, when dealing with politicians from opposition parties. Smita has been widely accused of conducting favorable interviews for the party.
ANI has been also accused of misreporting events, by fact checkers certified by the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), including Alt News. The Caravan came across several video footages from ANI, wherein logos of random television channels from Pakistan along with Urdu tickers were superimposed on news showcasing India in a positive light; their video editors have admitted to forging clips. Long-form reports by The Caravan and The Ken, along with reports by other media watchdogs have detailed of the agency having served as a propaganda tool of the incumbent union government.
- Press Trust of India, the other leading news agency based in India
- "ANI MEDIA PRIVATE LIMITED - Company, directors and contact details". zaubacorp.com. Retrieved 22 June 2018.
- "Terms & Conditions". aninews.in.
- Shrivastava, K. M. (2007). News Agencies from Pigeon to Internet. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 9781932705676.
- Paterson, Chris A.; Sreberny, Annabelle (2004). International News in the 21st Century. Georgetown University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9781860205965.
- "Footaging It Fleetly". Outlook India Magazine. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
- Saxena, Sunil. Web Journalism-The Craft & Technology. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. p. 16. ISBN 9780070680838.
- How ANI reports the government’s version of truth, Caravan Magazine, 1 March 2019
- Donthi, Praveen (1 March 2019). "The Image Makers : How ANI Reports The Government's Version Of Truth". The Caravan. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
- Ahluwalia, Harveen; Srivilasan, Pranav (2018-10-21). "How ANI quietly built a monopoly". The Ken. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
- Dhillon, Amrit (2019-01-05). "Indian PM lampooned for 'manufactured' interview". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
- Chaudhuri, Pooja (2018-10-21). "ANI - A tale of inadvertent errors and oversights". Alt News. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
- Tiwari, Ayush (18 September 2019). "Meet ANI's 'European experts' on Kashmir. They're experts all right — just not on Kashmir". Newslaundry. Retrieved 4 January 2019.