Media Transasia Ltd., the publishers of Swagat - Indian Airlines' in-flight magazine - have filed a case against the Airline in the High Court of Delhi. The plea is to restrain the Airline from allowing a second magazine on board. (We broke the news on June 11 that Indian Airlines had entered into an agreement with CMYK Printech Limited - the publishers of The Pioneer - for an in-flight magazine on board their subsidiary carrier Alliance Air but the understanding was to allow the magazine into the Indian Airlines' flights as well.) The new magazine - Darpan - is slated to make an appearance on the 15th of August. A dummy of Darpan has been circulating among the likely advertisers and ad agencies to canvas for the ads.
The battle promises to be fought to a very bitter end. Some behind-the-scene exertions by both the 'aggressor' as well as the 'defendant' have surfaced in the grapevine columns of a few publications. The buzz has it that a city politician ensconced in the PMO, working in tandem with a powerful fixer-businessman, is pushing and prodding senior babus in the ministry as well as the Airline. Even a senior executive of Media Transasia was summoned and given a verbal thrashing. Unable to counter such a powerful and determined effort, the 'defendants' have been running from pillar to post trying to avoid a legal showdown all this while.
Their mercy petitions have taken them to the highest and the mightiest in the government. The wheels, they lament, seem to take their own time to churn. Hence a resort to the legal recourse.
The agencies and the advertisers, meanwhile, have turned fence sitters, preferring to wait and watch. An injunction from the court will postpone the imminent threat to Swagat that rakes in Rs.15 crores a year in ad revenues. Swagat's failure to get a relief from the courts will institutionalize a bitter ad war between the two magazines. The rates that Darpan is offering in the market have already created a sensation among the regular Swagat advertisers.