Paid media is not news anymore but this one will make you give the entire concept a re-think. Apparently a fast up-and-coming star son was almost blackmailed into signing up for paid PR by a newspaper group that prides itself in calling India’s no 1 newspaper and news media group. The company, always into using both temptations (awards, magazine covers, inflated boxoffice figures) and coercion (criticism, false accusations, taking away credit for successful films) has been into manipulating Bollywood stars for almost 3 decades now. While some superstars played along, getting awards by a dozen, regular cover stories and the Numero-Uno tag,  one really huge megastar refused to toe the line. The result was any number of negative stories projecting him as a failure (when he has the biggest hits of the last 30 years) about his unprofessional ways and about his personal life. However this story is not about those big ones.

The newspaper has been in doldrums ever since the arrival of social media what with viewers being able to call the bluff of the print stories and even TV anchors over the last decade. The groups efforts to anoint a star son from Bollywood’s biggest Khaandaan, with hardly any credentials, as the next Numero Uno backfired majorly as the supposed superstar had one flop after the other over the last 5 years. Slowly actors stopped believing in the power of Paid News and the younger generation of stars refused to go to them as they became successful on their own without the false news stories.

In desperation the media house approached a star son who had just had two huge hits including his debut film. He refused to pay up to get good stories about himself printed as his career was doing well already. The company waited and as soon as the guy had a flop, his third release, they started putting out negative stories (mostly as blind items without naming him) about him in their papers and tabloids. The last straw was when they published a patently false story about him falling out with his favourite Director who had given him his two hits.

Finally the guy gave in and signed up with the newspaper group. Next thing you know is a number of positive stories started appearing about the actor with regular exposure in the group’s publications. However the actor is supposed to be mighty upset with the company and is just biding his time before he can take some kind of an action against the group.

Let’s wait and watch who gets bullied next.


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