Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy is buying a news channel, and will gift it to his 'second wife' Radhika, publications in Karnataka are saying.
The Janata Dal(S) leader and son of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda has reportedly sealed the deal to acquire Samaya TV from its Congressman founder and owner Satish Jarkiholi for Rs 60 crore.
Bangalore Mirror, the Times Group's tabloid, reports that Kumaraswamy is hiring senior journalists to strengthen the channel editorially. Samaya, launched last year, has not been able to take on the more established players in the crowded Kannada TV channel space.
Radhika, a movie star, reportedly has a son from Kumaraswamy. The couple have appeared together at religious ceremonies. Kumaraswamy's wife Anitha already runs the entertainment channel Kasturi. The offices of Kasturi and Samaya, on Bangalore's Kasturba Road, are separated only by a petrol station.
Just last week, Karnataka's tourism minister G Janardhana Reddy started his news channel Janasri. Reddy, with his brothers and supporters, is notorious for controlling the BJP cabinet in Karnataka with his money earned from "illegal" mining.
Suvarna News, launched recently, is controlled by Rajeev Chandrashekhar, the BJP-supported member of parliament, who sees a big role for himself in Karnataka politics. Of late, he has been making appearances on national news channels, although he is a non-entity as far as the non-urban Kannadiga is concerned. Late last year, Chandrashekhar bought a big stake in the newspaper Kannada Prabha, and has now hired a hotshot editor to head it. The competition for media ownership is intensifying, and the JD(S) will now have its own news channel.
Kumaraswamy's father Deve Gowda describes himself as a "humble farmer", and the family enjoys considerable influence in Karnataka, especially in the southern districts. Over the last couple of months, Kumaraswamy has been accusing chief minister B S Yeddyurappa of favouring his sons with government sites. Yeddyurappa has just released information that Kumaraswamy, when he was chief minister, allotted eight sites in prime localities to his relatives.
The Karnataka-centric news blog Churumuri reports that Kumaraswamy bought the expensive gift for Radhika on a day significant for lovers: "Ordinary mortals buy roses for their beau on Valentine’s Day. Sons of the soil buy TV news channels."
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