afaqs!

INX finds itself mired in controversy

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 04, 2008
The INX fracas reached a new low when the management tried to get rid of a few more journalists after Vir Sanghvi's departure

Still in & #BANNER1 & # its gestation period, NewsX, the soon to be launched news channel from INX, is already under the scrutiny of the ministry of information and broadcasting. This development comes in the wake of a dispute between the management and the editorial team after the firing of Avirook Sen, a senior journalist and the executive editor of NewsX. The I&B ministry has already issued a statement and condemned the way NewsX handled the termination of some of its editorial staff, including Sen.

A number of other senior journalists have stood by Sen and resigned from the still to be aired news entity. The INX management is also standing together and has issued a statement, explaining why Sen's services were terminated.

INX's chief executive officer, Vir Sanghvi, put in his papers and his working relationship with INX was terminated with effect from January 29. It seems that INX's intention was to get rid of the king's men after the king himself had left.

Avirook Sen
According to Sen, on the evening of January 31, he found that his team-mate, a 24-year-old producer called Kailash Menon, was being intimidated into signing a prepared resignation letter. No grounds for removal were offered. When Sen questioned the management about Menon's forced resignation, he was threatened with criminal action if he himself did not resign. No explanation was given as to why he was being asked to resign.

Says Sen, "I am shocked to see how INX treats senior journalists. The incident is unprecedented in the history of Indian journalism."

PR Dasmunsi
Following this development, Sen and other journalists and the news editors of NewsX called on the Union minister for information and broadcasting, PR Dasmunsi. He was told about the injustice and the treatment meted out to them by the INX management.

Dasmunsi said later in a statement, "Keeping in view the independence and autonomy of the media, neither the government nor the ministry ever interferes and shall not intervene in the internal affairs or administration of any media house or channel. But the manner in which the eminent editors have been treated and the rights of media personnel have been reportedly infringed upon is really a matter of great concern for free and fair journalism in the country. The minister has been apprised of the serious allegations including source of channel funding which the minister is not competent to react, and accordingly, has referred the matter to the concerned desk of the finance ministry to ascertain the facts through their investigation wing."

The statement from the minister adds, "Whenever any media personnel is engaged on some contract, their contractual terms should be valued and honoured, including the financial clauses. Otherwise, hire and fire mechanism shall not provide honour and confidence to the engaged media personnel in the country, wherever they may be."

Indrani Mukherjea, chairperson of INX Media, is unperturbed about the allegations being cast on INX's funding sources. She has released a statement: "There have been rumours in the media circles about the circumstances pertaining to the termination of the services of Avirook Sen. INX was forced to summarily terminate Sen's services because he was found to be utilising his office laptop to access pornographic content on the Internet. This is violative of company policy, besides being illegal as per the law of the land. Consequently, Sen's employment agreement was terminated."

Sen in turn has dismissed the charges, and now plans to take legal action.

Other journalists who were asked to leave INX are Kailash Menon, Rajesh Sundaram, Arun Roy Chowdhury and Nick Pollard.

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