Three NDTV anchors and presenters quit to set up production house

MUMBAI: The citadel is cracking. After retaining his employees for longer than many an Indian production house, Prannoy Roy's New Delhi Television (NDTV) has been hit by some defections.

Three top anchors and programme hosts - Shireen, Arup Ghosh and Sharad Sharma - quit NDTV today to set up a TV software company called Network 1 Pvt Ltd. Shama, the chief executive of the proposed company, says the aim is to build up an organisation where talent would be given due recognition. As if this was not enough, NDTV has lost two other senior journalists in its Mumbai bureau, including long time Mumbai correspondent Shishir Joshi.

The Sharma-Shireen-Ghosh trio is expected to make programmes for other satellite channels and, according to Mumbai-based sources in the TV industry, are expected to open negotiations with TV channels soon. NDTV was unavailable for comments. But sources in NDTV said that the rebel `Trimurti' put in their papers on Tuesday morning after meeting up with Prannoy Roy, who has just returned after a trip to the US.

Elaborating on their mission statement to realise their dreams in a growing industry as entrepreneurs, Sharma says, "Network 1 is going to bring in the latest digital technology and the best talent to create a world class production facility that has vision and credibility."

According to Arup Ghosh, one of the best bilingual anchors that NDTV had, "I believe that talent should be given its due recognition with enthusiasm and teamwork complementing it."

However, Ghosh refused to elaborate when asked whether he meant that during his over five years of stay at NDTV his talent had not been given due recognition and that was the reason for quitting. The initial programming thrust will be producing, anchoring and presenting TV programmes of the non-fiction genre for anybody and everybody. Plans are to add the Internet and radio also to their portfolio and dabble in the entertainment sector too.

Media watchers see this as a major dent in the castle of Roy, one of the most well-known faces of Indian TV. Their contention: at this juncture when NDTV's relationship with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Star TV is uneasy owing to various issues, three top anchors and hosts quitting the organsiation will make life that much diffuclt for the Roys, while that much easy for NDTV's competitors.

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