In a move that shocked the entire Indian television industry, Zee Telefilms Ltd (ZTL) issued marching orders to its programming head, Vishnu Patel, along with two general managers in charge of finance and legal affairs last week.

The three executives were asked to go with allegations of corruption hanging over their heads. Additionally, two senior executives, in charge of events and finance, handed in their resignations a couple of days before the sacking. A communiqu from the CEO Vijay Jindal informed ZTL employees that "we as a growing and evolving organisation need to protect our corporate fiber from such virus-like infections." The three sacked executives are alleged to have asked undue favours from producers wanting to get their series approved and telecast on Zee TV. They were part of the core team created by Jindal when he took up his position in the network a couple of years ago. Producers had for long complained of harassment by the program clearance committee, which consisted of the sacked executives. Investigations into these allegations were on for at least three to four months by the ZTL management.

Chairman Subhash Chandra had a closed door meeting with Jindal before the decision to jettison the employees was taken. Patel says the allegations are baseless, that he is innocent and he is being made a scapegoat.

In another development, the company is seeking to bring the Zee Network?s international operations in the US, UK, South Africa, Mauritius, and Canada into its fold. The holding company of these operations is to be merged with ZTL if shareholders give their approval at the meeting on 26 March. The ZTL share continued on its new-high-seeking spree last week. It crossed Rs 1,000 to touch a peak of Rs 1,054 before falling back in the Rs 900 range over the weekend.

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