Indian billionaire Gautam Adani sees the takeover of news broadcaster New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) as a “responsibility” rather than a business opportunity, he said in an interview with the Financial Times on Friday.
The ports-to-energy conglomerate run by Adani, Asia’s richest person, unveiled plans late in August to acquire a majority stake in NDTV, seen as a bastion of independent media.
The takeover attempt has triggered concerns among journalists and politicians that a change of ownership could undermine NDTV’s editorial integrity.
Founded in 1988 and owned by husband-and-wife team Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, NDTV previously said that the move by Adani Group “was executed without any input from, conversation with, or consent of the NDTV founders”.
Gautam Adani hails from the western state of Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s main opposition Congress party has often accused Gautam Adani and other billionaires of getting favourable policy treatment from Modi’s federal administration.
“Independence means if government has done something wrong, you say it’s wrong,” Adani said in the FT interview. “But at the same time, you should have courage when the government is doing the right thing every day. You have to also say that.”
Adani added that he has invited NDTV’s owner-founder Prannoy Roy to remain as chair when the acquisition is completed.
NDTV’s business rivals include Times Group’s Times Now and Network18’s CNN-News18, controlled by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani.
Gautam Adani also said in the interview that he is planning to invest more than $4 billion in a petrochemical complex in the state of Gujarat.
He plans to launch a “super app” in the next three to six months to connect Adani airport passengers with other Adani Group services, according to the report.