The Times of India (TOI) is an Indian English-language daily newspaper and digital news media owned and managed by The Times Group. According to Audit Bureau of Circulations, it is ranked 9th in the world by circulation and 3rd in India. It is the oldest English-language newspaper in India, and the second-oldest Indian newspaper still in circulation since its first edition published in 1838. It is nicknamed as "The Old Lady of Bori Bunder", and is an Indian "newspaper of record".
Near the beginning of the 20th century, Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, called The Times of India "the leading paper in Asia". In 1991, the BBC ranked The Times of India among the world's six best newspapers.
It is owned and published by Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. (B.C.C.L.), which is owned by the Sahu Jain family. In the Brand Trust Report 2012, The Times of India was ranked 88th among India's most-trusted brands. In 2017, however, the newspaper was ranked 355th.
The Times of India issued its first edition on 3 November 1838 as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce. The paper was published on Wednesdays and Saturdays under the direction of Raobahadur Narayan Dinanath Velkar, a Maharashtrian social reformer, and contained news from Britain and the world, as well as the Indian Subcontinent. J.E. Brennan was its first editor. In 1850, it began to publish daily editions.
In 1860, editor Robert Knight (1825–1892) bought the Indian shareholders' interests, merged with rival Bombay Standard, and started India's first news agency. It wired Times dispatches to papers across the country and became the Indian agent for Reuters news service. In 1861, he changed the name from the Bombay Times and Standard to The Times of India. Knight fought for a press free of prior restraint or intimidation, frequently resisting the attempts by governments, business interests, and cultural spokesmen and led the paper to national prominence. In the 19th century, this newspaper company employed more than 800 people and had a sizeable circulation in India and Europe.
Bennett and Coleman ownership
Subsequently, The Times of India saw its ownership change several times until 1892 when an English journalist named Thomas Jewell Bennett along with Frank Morris Coleman (who later drowned in the 1915 sinking of the SS Persia) acquired the newspaper through their new joint stock company, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.
Sir Stanley Reed edited The Times of India from 1907 until 1924 and received correspondence from the major figures of India such as Mahatma Gandhi. In all he lived in India for fifty years. He was respected in the United Kingdom as an expert on Indian current affairs. He christened Jaipur as "the Pink City of India".
Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd was sold to sugar magnate Ramkrishna Dalmia of the then-famous industrial family, the Dalmias, for ₹20 million (US$280,000) in 1946, as India was becoming independent and the British owners were leaving. In 1955 the Vivian Bose Commission of Inquiry found that Ramkrishna Dalmia, in 1947, had engineered the acquisition of the media giant Bennett Coleman & Co. by transferring money from a bank and an insurance company of which he was the Chairman. In the court case that followed, Ramkrishna Dalmia was sentenced to two years in Tihar Jail after having been convicted of embezzlement and fraud.
But for most of the jail term he managed to spend in hospital. Upon his release, his son-in-law, Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain, to whom he had entrusted the running of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. rebuffed his efforts to resume command of the company.
Jain family (Shanti Prasad Jain)
In the early 1960s, Shanti Prasad Jain was imprisoned on charges of selling newsprint on the black market. And based on the Vivian Bose Commission's earlier report which found wrongdoings of the Dalmia – Jain group, that included specific charges against Shanti Prasad Jain, the Government of India filed a petition to restrain and remove the management of Bennett, Coleman and Company. Based on the pleading, the Justice directed the Government to assume control of the newspaper which resulted in replacing half of the directors and appointing a Bombay High Court judge as the Chairman.
Under the Government of India
Following the Vivian Bose Commission report indicating serious wrongdoings of the Dalmia–Jain group, on 28 August 1969, the Bombay High Court, under Justice J. L. Nain, passed an interim order to disband the existing board of Bennett, Coleman & Co and to constitute a new board under the Government. The bench ruled that "Under these circumstances, the best thing would be to pass such orders on the assumption that the allegations made by the petitioners that the affairs of the company were being conducted in a manner prejudicial to public interest and to the interests of the Company are correct". Following that order, Shanti Prasad Jain ceased to be a director and the company ran with new directors on board, appointed by the Government of India, with the exception of a lone stenographer of the Jains. Curiously, the court appointed D K Kunte as Chairman of the Board. Kunte had no prior business experience and was also an opposition member of the Lok Sabha.
Back to the Jain family
In 1976, during the Emergency in India, the Government transferred ownership of the newspaper back to Ashok Kumar Jain, who was Sahu Shanti Prasad Jain's son and Ramkrishna Dalmia's grandson. He is the father of the current owners Samir Jain and Vineet Jain). The Jains too often landed themselves in various money laundering scams and Ashok Kumar Jain had to flee the country when the Enforcement Directorate pursued his case strongly in 1998 for alleged violations of illegal transfer of funds (to the tune of US$1.25 million) to an overseas account in Switzerland.
During the Emergency
On 26 June 1975, the day after India declared a state of emergency, the Bombay edition of The Times of India carried an entry in its obituary column that read "D.E.M. O'Cracy, beloved husband of T.Ruth, father of L.I.Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justice expired on 25 June". The move was a critique of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's 21-month state of emergency, which is now widely known as "the Emergency" and seen by many as a roundly authoritarian era of Indian government.
The Times in the 21st century
In late 2006, Times Group acquired Vijayanand Printers Limited (VPL). VPL previously published two Kannada newspapers, Vijay Karnataka and Usha Kiran, and an English daily, Vijay Times. Vijay Karnataka was the leader in the Kannada newspaper segment then.
The paper launched a Chennai edition, 12 April 2008. It launched a Kolhapur edition, February 2013.
Introduced in 2013 and awarded for the second time in 2016, "The Times of India Film Awards" or the "TOIFA" is an award for the work in Film Industry decided by a global public vote on the nomination categories.
Editions and publications
The Times of India is published by the media group Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. The company, along with its other group of companies, known as The Times Group, also publishes Ahmedabad Mirror, Bangalore Mirror, Mumbai Mirror, Pune Mirror; Economic Times; ET Panache (Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore on Monday to Friday) and Times of India ET Panache (Pune and Chennai on every Saturday); Ei Samay, (a Bengali daily); Maharashtra Times, (a Marathi daily); Navbharat Times, (a Hindi daily).
The Times of India has its editions in major cities such as Mumbai, Agra, Ahmedabad, Allahabad, Aurangabad, Bareilly, Bangalore, Belgaum, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Coimbatore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Dehradun, Delhi, Gorakhpur, Gurgaon, Guwahati, Gwalior, Hubli, Hyderabad, Indore, Jabalpur, Jaipur, Jammu, Kanpur, Kochi, Kolhapur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ludhiana, Madurai, Malabar, Mangalore, Meerut, Mysore, Nagpur, Nashik, Navi Mumbai, Noida, Panaji, Patna, Pondicherry, Pune, Raipur, Rajkot, Ranchi, Shimla, Surat, Thane, Tiruchirapally, Trivandrum, Vadodara, Varanasi, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.
Times Group Network
- Speaking Tree: A spiritual network intended to allow spiritual seekers to link spiritual seekers with established practitioners.
- Healthmeup: A health, diet, and fitness website.
- Cricbuzz: In November 2014, Times Internet acquired Cricbuzz, a website focused on cricket news.
The Times of India has been criticized for being the first to institutionalize the practice of paid news in India, where politicians, businessmen, corporations and celebrities can pay the newspaper and its journalists would carry the desired news for the payer. The newspaper offers prominence with which the paid news is placed and the page on which it is displayed based on the amount of the payment. According to this practice, a payment plan assures a news feature and ensures positive coverage to the payer. In 2005, The Times of India began the practice of "private treaties", also called as "brand capital", where new companies, individuals or movies seeking mass coverage and public relations, major brands and organizations were offered sustained positive coverage and plugs in its news columns in exchange for shares or other forms of financial obligations to Bennett, Coleman & Company, Ltd. (B.C.C.L.) – the owners of The Times of India. The B.C.C.L., with its "private treaties" program, acquired stakes in 350 companies and generated 15% of its revenues by 2012, according to a critical article in The New Yorker. The "paid news" and "private treaties" practice started by The Times of India has since been adopted by The Hindustan Times group, the India Today group, the Outlook group, and other major media groups in India including Indian television channels. This division of the company was later renamed Brand Capital and has contracts in place with many companies in diverse sectors.
The "paid news" and "private treaties" blur the lines between content and advertising, with the favorable coverage written by the staff reporters on the payroll of The Times of India. The newspaper has defended its practice in 2012 by stating that it includes a note of disclosure to the reader – though in a small font – that its contents are "advertorial, entertainment promotional feature", that they are doing this to generate revenues just like "all newspapers in the world do advertorials" according to The Times of India owners. According to Maya Ranganathan, this overlap in the function of a journalist to also act as a marketing and advertisement revenue seeker for the newspaper raises conflict of interest questions, a problem that has morphed into ever-larger scale in India and recognized by India's SEBI authority in July 2009.
Under an ad sales initiative called Medianet, if a large company or Bollywood studio sponsored a news-worthy event, the event would be covered by the Times of India but the name of the company or studio that sponsored it will not be mentioned in the paper unless they paid the Times of India for advertising. In 2010, a report by a subcommittee of India's Press Council found that Medianet's paid news strategy had spread to a large number of newspapers and more than five hundred television channels.
Critics state that the company's paid news and private treaties skew its coverage and shield its newspaper advertisers from scrutiny. The Hoot, a media criticism website, has pointed out that when an elevator in a 19-storey luxury apartment complex in Bangalore crashed killing two workers and injuring seven, all the English language and Kannada language newspapers with the exception of the Times of India called out the name of the construction company, Sobha Developers, which was a private-treaty partner. An article titled "reaping gold through bt cotton," which first appeared in the Nagpur edition of the Times of India in 2008, reappeared unchanged in 2011, this time with a small print alert that the article was a "marketing feature". In both cases, the article was factually incorrect and made false claims about the success of Monsanto's genetically modified cotton. According to a critical article published in the Indian magazine The Caravan, when the Honda Motors plant in Gurgaon experienced an eight-month-long conflict between management and non-unionized workers over wages and work conditions in 2005, the Times of India covered the concerns of Honda and the harm done to India's investment climate and largely ignored the issues raised by workers.
Vineet Jain, Managing Director of B.C.C.L., has insisted that a wall does exist between sales and the newsroom, and that the paper does not give favorable coverage to the company's business partners. "Our editors don’t know who we have," Jain said, although he later acknowledged that all private-treaty clients are listed on the company's Web site. Ravindra Dhariwal, the former CEO of B.C.C.L. had defended private treaties in a 2010 interview with the magazine Outlook and claims that the partners in the private treaties sign contracts where they agree to clauses that they will not receive any favorable editorial coverage.
There have been claims that The Times of India would strike deals with advertisers only if they removed their advertisements from other competitor newspapers.
The Times of India is also embroiled in an active lawsuit against the Financial Times. In 1993, when the Financial Times was preparing to enter the Indian market, Samir Jain, the Vice-Chairman of B.C.C.L., registered the term "Financial Times" as a trademark of his company and declared it his intellectual property in an attempt to stymie the Financial Times and prevent them from competing with the Economic Times which is owned by B.C.C.L.
In 1994, when the Hindustan Times was the top-selling paper in New Delhi, the Times of India slashed their prices by a third, to one and a half rupees after having built up their ads sales force in preparation for the price drop to make up for the lost circulation revenue. By 1998, the Hindustan Times had dropped to second place in Delhi. The Times of India took a similar strategy in Bangalore where they dropped the price to one rupee despite protests from Siddharth Varadarajan, one of the editors of the newspaper at the time, who called the strategy "predatory pricing".
Cobrapost Sting Operation
In 2018, Vineet Jain, Managing Director of B.C.C.L., and Sanjeev Shah, executive president of B.C.C.L., were caught on camera as part of an undercover sting operation by Cobrapost agreeing to promote Hindutva content through the group's many media properties for a proposed spend of ₹500 crore, some of which the client said could only be paid with black money. B.C.C.L. has responded to the sting claiming that the video that was released by Cobrapost was incomplete and doctored and that Vineet Jain was engaged in a counter-sting of his own to expose the undercover reporter during the filming of the video.
Legal action by The Doon School Old Boys' Society
In 2018, The Doon School Old Boys' Society threatened legal action against the publication for negligence and defamation, when the newspaper reported a rape and murder case in a Dehradun school with the phrase "Doon school" in its headline, to imply a school located in the Doon Valley. Consequently, the newspaper corrected the headline of the online edition to mention "Dehradun school", and included a disclaimer at the start of the story, stating: "The headline of this story has been changed. It mentioned 'Doon school' which is incorrect. This was an inadvertent error which has been corrected. Our apologies. The school mentioned in the story has no connection with The Doon School."
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- Shashi Tharoor, Columnist of "Shashi on Sunday"
- V. D. Trivadi, Humorist
- Twinkle Khanna, Columnist of "Mrs. Funnybones"
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