Television

Dasmunsi weighs in to NewsX fracas

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NEW DELHI: Reiterating that the government would not interfere in the internal affairs or administraton of any media house or television channel, information and broadcasting minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi today appealed to all media channels that contractual obligations relating to employees on contract shoud be honoured and valued.

In a statement after a meeting with a delegation of senior and eminent electronic media journalists and news editors of the NewsX channel, he said, "Whenever any media personnel is engaged on some contract, their contractual terms should be valued and honoured including the financial clauses."

Meanwhile, he referred the matter to the concerned desk of the finance ministry to ascertain the facts through their investigation wing relating to the source of channel funding as he said that he was "not competent to react" to the issue.

The employees explained about the injustice and what they described as "the shocking treatment" being meted out to them by the security staff and other persons who were later sacked.

The minister refused to interfere keeping in view the independence and autonomy of the media. But he opined that the manner in which the eminent editors have been treated and the rights of media personnel reportedly infringed upon is really a matter of great concern for free and fair journalism in the country.

He said if the contractual obligatons are not honoured, the "hire-and-fire mechanism shall not provide honour and confidence to the engaged media personnel in the country, wherever they may be."

Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the executive director Avirook Sen, it has been stated that a 24-year old producer named Kailash Menon had been summoned to the basement of the NewsX headquarters and intimidated into signing a prepared resignation letter. No grounds for removal were offered, the statement says.

Sen says when he confronted the four people who intimidated the producer into signing a false statement, he was called to the basement and threatened by four persons from the HR department with criminal action if he did not resign.

They also said that if he refused to resign they could issue a termination letter. He claims that he was manhandled by security guards while this letter was being prepared. They sought to forcibly take his laptop and also took the keys of his car from the driver, while preventing other staff entering his chamber.

"I am challenging my dismissal legally. But what is most shocking is how INX treats senior journalists. Yesterday's incident is unprecedented in the history of Indian journalism," he said in the statement.

However, INX Media dubs the circumstances pertaining to Sen's termination as "rumours in the media circles."

An official statement said, "We would like to state that the company was forced to summarily terminate Sen's services because he was found to be utilizing 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."

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