One of the original promoters of a company that first aired NaMo TV, a channel dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has said that he or his company isn't involved in running the channel anymore. NaMo TV beamed on major direct-to-home networks Sunday.
“We were earlier involved with NaMo TV. We are not running it anymore,” Sujay Mehta told Business Standard over the phone from Ahmedabad.
Mehta was asked when and to whom he transferred operations of NaMo TV. He replied, “I am not involved anymore. I do not know anything.”
The BJP hasn’t officially claimed ownership of NaMo TV, but the party’s official social media posts have urged people to watch Narendra Modi’s speeches on the channel. On March 31, when the channel suddenly appeared on TV, the BJP posted on social media, “Capture the colours of elections. Watch the dance of democracy. Say NaMo again with NaMo TV. Tune in to get real-time coverage of PM Modi’s election campaign and a lot more fascinating content.”
NaMo TV was aired by Mehta, a homoeopath, through a company called New Hope Infotainment incorporated in 2012. The channel was reportedly first aired in October 2012, a couple of months before assembly elections in Gujarat. The company was registered at the same address where Mehta runs his homeopathy clinic in Vastrapur locality of Ahmedabad.
Local Congress leaders had complained about the channel to Election Commission of India (ECI) at the time. Reports of the time suggest that the channel was taken off air for a day but subsequently returned to the airwaves. The channel was aired at the time despite the model code of conduct being in force in the state. The ECI hadn’t objected to airing of the channel in 2012.
Company documents show that New Hope Infotainment had another shareholder named Sanjay Rasiklal Shah in addition to Mehta. The company was started with a paid up capital of Rs 1 lakh. In 2012-13, the very first year of its operations, it recorded revenues of Rs 3.5 crore and a profit of almost Rs 65 lakh. But over the years, one of the companies promoting NaMo TV seems to have gone into oblivion. Since 2015-16, the company hasn’t earned any revenue from its operations. Most of its income in recent years has been derived from either interest on fixed deposits or income tax refunds.
Among other things, New Hope Infotainment was incorporated with the objective of “to carry on business as private channel operator and provide consultancy for all types of cable network related activities, cable internet business, internet games, any business related to transmission of cable.”
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting does not list New Hope Infotainment as one the companies running satellite television channels in India nor does it list NaMo TV as one of the licensed satellite television channels being broadcast in India. The ECI has sought details about NaMo TV from the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) after complaints were filed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress. Both parties have alleged that the sudden appearance of a TV channel named after dedicated to showing Modi’s speeches is a violation of the model code of conduct.
While NaMo TV’s funding and ownership is still not clear, Narendra Modi’s official mobile application has a link to NaMo TV which carries content related to him including his speeches and other promotional material. The developer of the application hasn’t been specified but the address in the application information section has been specified as the BJP’s headquarters in Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg.