TNN again, but it sounds suspiciously like Medianet

BY Sourav Barman| IN Media Practice | 20/02/2011
Yesterday the Times of India made news in the Sunday Times, London, with a story called "India’s media demand cash to run favourable news."
The Greenslade Blog in the Guardian then picked up the Times story and used it as a peg for a column called “India~s dodgy ~paid news~ phenomenon “, says SOURAV BARMAN
The British press are having a ball with India’s paid news phenomenon. Yesterday the Times of India made news in the Sunday Times, London, with a story called “India’s media demand cash to run favourable news.” The reporter Nicola Smith described how she called up TOI’s paid news arm Medianet pretending to be the PR agent of a company that wanted coverage for its party at an exclusive shopping mall. She was quoted different rates for the front page of the Delhi Times supplement (£27 a centimetre) and for an inside page (£16).
The Greenslade Blog in the Guardian then picked up the Sunday Times story and used it as a peg for a column called “India's dodgy 'paid news' phenomenon“. He gives further details of what a Delhi executive of Medianet told Smith: the coverage could be “dressed up as a genuine news story, as long as it met a 'celebrity quotient'. Celebrities were available to attend the event at an extra cost, he said.
The executive  later confirmed that a recent Times article about the launch of a range of ballpoint pens had been paid for by a marketing company, says Greenslade.
Now here is how that article went:
Katrina Kaif sure believes in the power of the pen. Uniball Pens, manufactured by Mitsubishi Pencil Co, Japan and marketed in India exclusively by Linc Pen & Plastics Ltd. recently chose her as the brand ambassador. Deepak Jalan, MD, Linc Pen & Plastics Ltd, while speaking on the occasion, said, “The decision to take Katrina as brand ambassador is based on the fact that she has a great connect with the urban youth of our country, which is basically where our brand focus is. For a pen that is largely aimed at college students and young working professionals, Katrina will definitely infuse fresh energy and vivaciousness.”
Katrina has been associated with several premium brands, but her association with Uni-ball marks her entry into the territory of hi-tech writing instruments. Speaking of the tie-up, the actress said, “I’m excited about being the face of a youthful, high-quality international brand, which I have personally grown up with in UK; and I particularly love Uni Jetstream, which I think, is the smoothest pen in the world. I seriously believe that today’s youth need to get back to exploring their creativity by penning their thoughts not just on the internet, but by putting pen to paper.”
Katrina will soon be seen in a multi-media campaign for Uni-ball, whose products range over a number of varieties ranging from 30 to 200.
Linc Pen, which has established itself as one of the top three players in the organised writing instrument industry in India, has recently renewed its contract with Shah Rukh Khan for the third year and will unveil its new advertising campaign with him soon.
                                         TNN"-DELHI TIMES-FEBRUARY 17, 2011,PAGE 37
The same article was published in Bombay Times a day before i.e. on the 16th February 2011, page 37 and on the 17th in Calcutta, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Pune Times. On the 18th it was published in the Jaipur, Hyderabad, and Bangalore Times. Each edition credited the story differently. Some put LINC at the end: Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Bombay. Others credited it to TNN, or Times News Network, notably Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur. And the Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata and Pune Times supplements had no byline for that story!
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