The Board of Directors
Time Warner Inc.
One Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019
The shareholders of Time Warner have entrusted you, collectively and individually, with the responsibility & the obligation to uphold at all times with all your abilities your fiduciary duty to their interests.
Besides direct financial interests, the broad set of interests of shareholders include moral, ethical and reputational interests. Reputation, especially of a moral & ethical kind, is an important part of the Price-Earnings multiple the markets award the stock of a public company. That is often expressed as “headline risk” or the risk of having an immoral, unethical act of a company’s management being openly publicized. This is how immoral and/or unethical behavior of a company’s management translates into financial losses for shareholders of the company. That is why one of the most important duties of a Board of Directors is oversight of their company’s management & operations.
We regret to inform you that you, the Board of Directors of Time Warner, Inc., have failed to achieve & maintain the necessary oversight of CNN, a subsidiary unit of your company. This lack of oversight and the lack of quick & effective response to the behavior of CNN does expose you, collectively & individually, to the charge of failure of your fiduciary responsibilities to the shareholders of Time Warner, Inc.
Virtually all of you are aware of the appallingly contemptuous portrayal of Hinduism on CNN on Sunday, March 5 in the CNN show titled “Believers”. All of you, unless you are on a sabbatical in some remote part not reached by CNN, are aware of the tidal wave of disgust & anger that has swept across the broad & incredibly diverse spectrum of people called Hindus. CNN’s was a portrayal of Hindus like the one Goebbels painted of German Jews in the 1930s and like the one ISIS & Al Qaeda paints of non-Muslims in areas they control.
Virtually all of you have received emails from Hindus from around the world expressing their sorrow and anger at the falsehoods & hate of Hinduism that CNN unleashed on the world in that show on Sunday, March 5. Virtually every major print publication in America has covered this issue. We wrote to Jeff Zucker, President of CNN, last week and enclosed a copy of our article Did CNN Cross The Rubicon of Religious Defamation with Reza Aslan Show?.
We have not heard back from Mr. Zucker and we doubt any of the people who wrote to him have heard from him. Neither Mr. Zucker nor any of you have made any public statement of regret of the offense taken by the global Hindu community at the assassination attempt on their religion. The host of that offensive CNN show has actually tried to say that his show didn’t intend to demean or denigrate Hinduism.
He, the CNN team that hired him & produced that show, Jeff Zucker and each one of you should recall that old & famous American saying “Don’t piss down my back and tell me its raining“.
It is likely that CNN, Mr. Zucker and many of you believe like the Senator in the above clip that “to the victor belong the spoils“. Your company is certainly a victor in the battle to build a TV network & media empire with a global reach. And you may claim the “spoils” of an unfettered license to defame, denigrate any religion or society, provided, of course, you are not afraid of any retaliation that might hurt you.
It is quite likely that many of you & certainly the collective you have made the calculation that Hindus are such a sissy people that your company has virtually no risk of any material damage from Hindus. There is no doubt in our mind that had CNN received such widespread negative feedback from followers of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, then you, the Board of Directors of Time Warner, would have quickly issued a statement of deep regret and an apology. We have no doubt that the lack of any fear about any serious repurcussions from Hindus has played a very big role in your collective decision to remain silent.
We would like warn you today that you, the Board of Directors of Time Warner, are making a serious mistake. Yes, Hindus are sissies in the sense that they don’t riot in the streets or commit violence against those who insult their religion. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get angry, deeply angry. We must tell you that we have never seen such intense anger at a network & a show as we have seen at CNN & its hate-spewing show Believers.
Don’t be fooled, Dear Directors, at the lack of a loud response. There is nothing worse than a deep quiet & white hot anger. And that is building and spreading across the Global Hindu community. Nobody is going to forget this assassination attempt by CNN and, we believe, CNN & Time Warner will pay a serious price at a later date when you least expect it.
Each one of you knows that India is breaking out. And most Indians don’t want to do anything that might negatively impact the trajectory of India’s growth & development. But pride in Indian religion & culture is rising simultaneously and actually at a faster rate. And that is a major source of intermediate-term risk to Time Warner via CNN.
Jeff Bewkes, your Chairman, has stated that he, like other media companies, sees India as a major source of growth for Time Warner. Your board member Fred Hassan is a partner of Warburg Pincus, a firm that has made several successful investments in India. Carlos Gutierrez knew of India’s growth fifteen years ago during his tenure at Kellogg.
It is possible that these three gentlemen as well the other members of your Board feel that publicly expressing contempt of Hinduism poses no risk to your business interests in India. You are wrong. Already there is a growing movement against multinationals in India, a movement towards Indian health & food products, a movement that is forcing multinationals to acquire & move into traditional Indian products.
Media companies like Disney, Sony, & Viacom, major competitors of Time Warner, have launched TV shows & films about Indian culture, religion & history. Disney, we know, has taken steps to eliminate anti-Hindu comments across that company & apologized for random comments from ESPN sportscasters.
Only your company Time Warner, via its operating subsidiary CNN, has gone to the other extreme of broadcasting the most offensive & denigratory show about Hinduism that we have ever seen, a show CNN marketed with the bold banner “cannibals”.
We have little doubt that your company, the company you are entrusted to oversee, is going to face serious blowback in India & from global Hindus over the next 5 or even 10 years. We are not just talking about lower ratings for CNN or lower revenues for Time Warner movies.
We are talking about legal risk in India from Indian laws that sanction behavior that “hurts religious sentiments”. In the next few years, you could see nationwide lawsuits in India against CNN & Time Warner for its public broadcast of denigration of Hinduism and Hindus.
That accompanied by boycotts of CNN & Time Warner media products would expose Time Warner, your Company, to direct financial risk and cause financial injury to your shareholders. Once that financial injury to Time Warner becomes visible, then you could face the anger of your shareholders and possibly direct exposure from that anger to you all, the Directors of Time Warner, for your failure of your fiduciary duty to Time Warner shareholders.
Is your hate of Hinduism and Hindus so deep today that you would be willing to face that prospect just a few years down the road? If you are then, frankly, you do not deserve to remain Directors of Time Warner and you should resign right now. If you are not, then you need to pick up the ball that Jeff Zucker seems to have dropped and take immediate action.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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