KOLKATA: After witnessing hard times for quite some time, TARA (Television Aimed at Regional Audiences) can now breathe a sigh of relief.
And guess who has come to its rescue? It’s none other than our every own didi. Yes, the West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has taken a resolution to revive TARA Newz and Muzik, the only two surviving channels of the redundant Saradha Group’s media business, that were shut down after the exposé of the chit fund fraud.
Under the rescue mission, the first proposition which was floored was to take over the channels; then came the proposal of payment of Rs 16,000 to each and every employee in the form of ex-gratia and now finally, there is an assurance of monthly commercial of around Rs 50 lakh.
“Mamata Banerjee has asked the state finance minister Amit Mitra to propose ways to revive the channels. And after various brainstorming sessions, it was decided that the state’s public sector units (PSUs) like West Bengal Electronics Industry Development Corporation Limited, West Bengal Financial Corporation among other state government undertakings will give monthly commercials worth Rs 50 lakh so that TARA as a brand can stay alive,” says a highly confidential government source.
He adds, “West Bengal Financial Corporation may release a payment of Rs 1.5 lakh to two lakh for the month of September. The channel must have got the amount by now.”
After the Saradha Groups’ chit fund went bust, the employees of Broadcast Worldwide which runs Tara Newz and Tara Muzik formed an association called Tara TV Employees Welfare Association in April this year with an aim to keep the channels on the air on their own. Nag was made the secretary of the association, and was entrusted with the responsibility of running the two channels by the Calcutta High Court.
When Tara Newz chief reporter Dipankar Nag was contacted to confirm the same, he denied any news of receiving any commercial order. However, he was quick to add, “We have 100 per cent faith in the CM and she will do something, so that the first 24x7 Bengali news channel can exist.”
The senior general manager-administration and finance and the president of the employees’ association Indrajit Roy informs that the state government has given an ex-gratia payment of Rs16, 000 each to the 168 employees of the two channels till August 2013. However, about the assurance of advertisement, he like Nag informed that they have not received any such commitment through email or in writing. “Although, we have met Amit Mitra and other state officials and discussed on the commercial, no formal receipt about the release order has been received.”
If one remembers, the initial plan of the CM was to take over the TV channels which reaches out to Bengali-speaking people across the world and is owned by the Saradha group which did not materalise because as per the present laws it is illegal for a government entity to own or run a television channel, informs the media expert.
He recounts, “Ms Banerjee had decided to run the channels following an appeal by 168 employees of the two channels who were without a job as the channels had shut shop after the Saradha meltdown.”
Hence, this does make one wonder if the CM has more than a general interest in saving the two channels?