Asian News International

Asian News International (ANI) is an Indian news agency that offers syndicated multimedia news feed to news bureaus in India and elsewhere.[3][4][5] Established by Prem Prakash in 1971, it was the first agency in India to syndicate video news[6] and as of 2019, is the biggest television news agency in India.

Asian News International
Company typeNews agency
IndustryMedia, news media
Founded9 December 1971; 52 years ago (1971-12-09)[1]
FounderPrem Prakash
New Delhi
Area served
India, South Asia
Key people
OwnerANI Media Private Limited[2]

The news agency has been criticized for having served as a propaganda tool for the incumbent central government,[7][8] distributing materials from a vast network of fake news websites,[9][10][11][12][13] and misreporting events.[7][14]

History edit

Establishment and early years (1971–2000) edit

Prem had started his career in the field of photography before being employed by Visnews (and Reuters) as a photojournalist, where he went on to cover some of the most significant historical events in post-independence India.[7][8] 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.[7][8]

In 1971, Prem established ANI (initially TVNF, India's first television news feature agency) which gained extraordinary influence within the Congress Government.[7] 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.[7]

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.[7] 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.[7][8] In 1993, Reuters purchased a stake in ANI, and it was allowed to exert a complete monopoly over their India feed.[7]

Later years (2000–present) edit

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.[7] This provided scope for massive expansion of ANI's domestic video-production capacities at the behest of Sanjiv, who had a meteoric rise through the ranks (along with Smita) courtesy his shrewd managerial instincts.[7] Asian Films TV was incorporated in 2000 to provide feed for newspapers and periodicals.[8] The Caravan though notes that most of its foot-soldiers were low-cost recruits, who had little to do with journalism.[7]

In 2000, the NDA government launched a Kashmir-based regional channel—DD Kashir, and ANI was allowed to produce its programs.[7][8] 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.[7] ANI continued to be trusted by the upcoming UPA governments, to the extent of Ministry of External Affairs 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 the United States.[7]

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.[7] The launch of UNI TV in 2010 by Yashwant Deshmukh gave stiff competition as well.[7] However, Ishaan Prakash, Smita's son who joined the company in 2011, procured multiple units of LiveU, expanded ANI's overseas bureaus and enlisted into contracts with multiple state governments and multiple union ministries.[7][8] A monopoly was again re-created and most of its competitors shut down, eventually.[7]

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.[8] Archive videos were sold at rates as high as ₹1,000 per second; in FY 2017–18, the firm reported revenues of ₹68.23 crore and a net profit of ₹9.91 crore.[8]

Events edit

Propaganda edit

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.[7][8][15]

The Caravan notes that for decades under Congress rule, 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.[7] During the peak-spans of militancy in the Kashmir conflict, ANI was the near-sole purveyor of video-footage, especially with Rao having been recruited as the media advisor to the state.[7] ANI grew even closer to the government after Bharatiya Janata Party was elected to power in 2014; effects have ranged from sympathetic covering of the political campaigns by BJP to reporters being highly confrontational, when dealing with politicians from opposition parties.[7][8][16]

In 2020, an investigation by EU DisinfoLab concluded that ANI had on multiple occasions published mostly anti-Pakistan and sometimes anti-China opinion pieces and news content, including opinion pieces falsely attributed to European politicians and other instances of disinformation, and that this material was known to have been sourced from a vast network of pro-India fake news websites run by a certain "Srivasta Group".[9][10][11][12][17][18] The report noted that mainstream Indian news media regularly relies on content provided by ANI, and that ANI had on several occasions provided legitimacy and coverage to the entire "influence operation" run by the fake news network, which relied "more on ANI than on any other distribution channel" [to give it] "both credibility and a wide reach to its content".[9] A primary aim of this fake news coverage was to "discredit Pakistan" in international forums.[9] 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.[7]

Misinformation edit

ANI has been also accused of misreporting events, by fact checkers certified by the Poynter Institute's International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN).[7][14] 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.[7]

In 2023 ANI shared a fake news of grave with grill and padlock under the headline, "Pakistani parents lock daughters' graves to avoid rape" as part of their misinformation campaign against Pakistan which was then shared by most of the news outlets in India. This grave later on was found to be in Hyderabad, India after fact-check.[19] However ANI and all other media outlets who shared this misinformation refused to take down the story.[20]

On 20 July 2023, ANI falsely blamed Muslims for the sexual assault and rape of two Kuki women during the 2023 Manipur violence.[21]

Employee management edit

Under a new management, ANI has been accused of practicing an aggressive model of journalism focused at maximum revenue output, where journalists were easily dispensable with.[7][8] Multiple employees have accused ANI of not having any human resource management system and ill-treating their ex-employees.[7]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "ANI MEDIA PRIVATE LIMITED - Company, directors and contact details". Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Terms & Conditions".
  3. ^ Shrivastava, K. M. (2007). News Agencies from Pigeon to Internet. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 9781932705676.
  4. ^ Paterson, Chris A.; Sreberny, Annabelle (2004). International News in the 21st Century. Georgetown University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9781860205965.
  5. ^ "Footaging It Fleetly". Outlook India Magazine. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  6. ^ Saxena, Sunil. Web Journalism-The Craft & Technology. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. p. 16. ISBN 9780070680838.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Donthi, Praveen (1 March 2019). "The Image Makers : How ANI Reports The Government's Version Of Truth". The Caravan. Retrieved 7 December 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ahluwalia, Harveen; Srivilasan, Pranav (21 October 2018). "How ANI quietly built a monopoly". The Ken. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  9. ^ a b c d Hussain, Abid; Menon, Shruti (10 December 2020). "The dead professor and the vast pro-India disinformation campaign". BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2020. The network was designed primarily to "discredit Pakistan internationally" and influence decision-making at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament, EU DisinfoLab said.
  10. ^ a b Saeed, Saim; Kayali, Laura (9 December 2020). "New pro-India EU website enrolling MEPs campaigns against Pakistan". Politico. Retrieved 9 December 2020.
  11. ^ a b Rej, Abhijnan. "EU Non-Profit Unearths Massive Indian Disinformation Campaign". Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  12. ^ a b "Indian Chronicles: deep dive into a 15-year operation targeting the EU and UN to serve Indian interests". EU DisinfoLab. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  13. ^ "#BadSources – How Indian news agency ANI quoted sources that do not exist". EU DisinfoLab. 23 February 2023. Retrieved 25 February 2023.
  14. ^ a b Chaudhuri, Pooja (21 October 2018). "ANI - A tale of inadvertent errors and oversights". Alt News. Retrieved 28 December 2019.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Dhillon, Amrit (5 January 2019). "Indian PM lampooned for 'manufactured' interview". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 29 December 2019.
  17. ^ "ANI, Srivastava Group named in massive EU disinformation campaign to promote Modi government's interests". The Caravan. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  18. ^ "Une vaste campagne de désinformation et d'influence indienne en Europe dévoilée". Le (in French). 9 December 2020. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  19. ^ "Media misreport: Viral photo of grave with iron grille is from Hyderabad, not Pakistan". Alt News. 30 April 2023. Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  20. ^ "Pakistani parents lock daughters' graves to avoid rape". ANI News. Retrieved 1 May 2023.
  21. ^ Team, NL (21 July 2023). "Kuki viral video: ANI apologises for 'inadvertently' claiming Muslim man was arrested". Newslaundry. Archived from the original on 22 July 2023. Retrieved 22 July 2023.

External links edit