Asian News International

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Asian News International
News agency
Industry Media, News media
Founded December 9, 1971; 48 years ago (1971-12-09) in New Delhi, India[1]
Founder Prem Prakash
New Delhi
Area served
India, South Asia
Key people
Owner ANI Media Private Limited[2]

Asian News International (ANI) is an Indian news agency based in New Delhi that provides syndicated multimedia news feed to multiple news-bureaus in India and beyond.[3][4][5] Established by Prem Prakash, it was the first agency in India to syndicate video news.[6] As of 2019, it is the biggest news agency in India; Smita Prakash is the Editor-in-Chief and is married to the CEO, Sanjiv Prakash.


Establishment and early years (1971-2000)

Prem started his career in the field of photography, before being employed by Visnews (as well as Reuters) as a photojournalist, where he went on to cover some of the most significant historical events in post-Independence India.[7][8] He was a significant figure in the domain of news and documentary film-making in the 1970s—commanding considerable clout among foreign journalists and film-makers—and had been conferred with the MBE.[7][8]

ANI was established in 1971 (preceded by TVNF, which was India’s first television news feature agency) and leveraged a host of tactics from the employing of numerous ex-bureaucrats (along with their kith and kin) at prime positions to cordialising his familial connections with I. K. Gujral, (the then minister of Information and Broadcasting) in a quest to gain influence within the Government.[7] TVNF was explicitly asked by Indira Gandhi to showcase a positive image of India, and monopolized the sector, producing numerous science-oriented films for Doordarshan, the state broadcaster.[7]

Smita Prakash, an alumna of Indian Institute of Mass Communication joined ANI in around 1986 as an intern and was later inducted as a full-time employee.[7] Daughter of Inna Ramamohan Rao, former director of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, she married Prem's son Sanjiv in 1988 and furthered ANI's access within the government.[7][8] For years along, ANI effectively served as an external publicity division of Ministry of External Affairs, showing the Army in a positive light and suppressing news about any internal discontent; the private nature of the organisation gave an air of non-partisan legitimacy to their videos.[7] During the peak-spans of militancy in Kashmir Conflict, ANI was the near-sole purveyor of video-footage, esp. with Rao having been recruited as the media advisor to the state.[7] In 1993, Reuters purchased a stake in ANI, which was allowed to exert a complete monopoly over the Reuters feed; Prem's connections with Peter Job helped the cause.[7] Also, along the 90s, Sanjiv had a meteoric rise through the ranks (along with Smita) and his shrewd managerial instincts increasingly divorced journalism from the organisation's goals.[7]

Later years (2000-present)

By 2000, India had seen a boom of private 24X7 news channels; however, unsustainable revenue models meant that they did not have the capacity to hire video-reporters across the country.[7] Coupled with Bhartiya Janata Party's ascendancy to power, it provided the scope for a massive expansion of ANI's domestic video-production capacities.[7] Asian Films TV was incorporated in 2000 to provide feed for newspapers and periodicals.[8] However, most of its foot-soldiers were low-cost recruits, who had little to do with journalism.[7] In 2000, the NDA government launched a Kashmir based regional channel—DD Kashir and ANI was allowed to produce its programs;[7][8] By the end of 2005, ANI's business-model was performing impressively and it had shifted its office out of Gole Market, to a new five-storey building in R.K. Puram.[7] ANI continued to be trusted by the upcoming UPA governments, to the extent of MEA choosing Smita to be a part of the two-member-strong contingent of Indian journalists at both of the joint press conferences between the incumbent prime ministers of India and USA.[7] ANI is also believed to have played significant roles as allies of the Research and Analysis Wing, India's external intelligence agency; many of its videos depicted protests by lobby groups and fringe activists, across the world, on the aspects of human rights abuse in Pakistan.[7]

Post 2005, news channels started unsubscribing from ANI due to increasing charges and low quality of journalism, coupled with the introduction of broadcast vans.[7] In 2010, UNI TV was launched by Yashwant Deshmukh as a competitor and gave stiff competition.[7] However, Ishan Prakash, Smita's son joined the company in 2011 and procured multiple units of LiveU, a pioneer technology that were an advancement over OB vans and far more portable.[7] The agency also expanded its overseas bureaus and enlisted into contracts with multiple state governments and multiple union ministries.[7][8] A monopoly was again re-created and most of its competitors shut down, eventually.[7] By late 2011, ANI accounted for about 99% of the Reuters feed and in FY 2017-18, they were paid ₹ 2.54 crore for the services.[8]

Under a new management, ANI has been accused of practicing an even-aggressive journalism model focused at maximum revenue output, but where journalists are easily dispensable with.[7][8] Archive videos were sold at rates as high as ₹ 1000 per second; in FY 2017-18, the firm reported revenues of ₹ 68.23 crore and a net profit of ₹ 9.91 crore.[8] Multiple employees have accused ANI of not having any human resource management, in place and ill-treating their ex-employees.[7] ; the effects have ranged from covering the party-campaigns to the farthest possible extent to reporters being highly pro-active, when dealing with politicians from opposition parties.[7][8] Smita has been widely accused of conducting favorable interviews for the party.[7][9]

ANI has been also documented to be a significant purveyor of fake news.[7][10] The Caravan noted several video footage from the unit, wherein logos of random television channels from Pakistan along with Urdu tickers were superimposed on news showcasing India in a positive light; video editors admitted to forging clips.[7] Long-form reports by The Caravan and The Ken, along with reports by media watchdogs have covered about how the agency has served as an effective propaganda tool of the incumbent union governments, across the years.[7][8][11]

See also


  1. ^ "ANI MEDIA PRIVATE LIMITED - Company, directors and contact details". Retrieved 22 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Terms & Conditions".
  3. ^ Shrivastava, K. M. (2007). News Agencies from Pigeon to Internet. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd. ISBN 9781932705676.
  4. ^ Paterson, Chris A.; Sreberny, Annabelle (2004). International News in the 21st Century. Georgetown University Press. p. 122. ISBN 9781860205965.
  5. ^ "Footaging It Fleetly". Outlook India Magazine. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  6. ^ Saxena, Sunil. Web Journalism-The Craft & Technology. Tata McGraw-Hill Education. p. 16. ISBN 9780070680838.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac Donthi, Praveen (1 March 2019). "The Image Makers : How ANI Reports The Government's Version Of Truth". The Caravan. Retrieved 2019-12-07.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ahluwalia, Harveen; Srivilasan, Pranav (2018-10-21). "How ANI quietly built a monopoly". The Ken. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  9. ^ Dhillon, Amrit (2019-01-05). "Indian PM lampooned for 'manufactured' interview". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-29.
  10. ^ Chaudhuri, Pooja (2018-10-21). "ANI - A tale of inadvertent errors and oversights". Alt News. Retrieved 2019-12-28.
  11. ^ Tiwari, Ayush (18 September 2019). "Meet ANI's 'European experts' on Kashmir. They're experts all right — just not on Kashmir". Newslaundry. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
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