KOLKATA: Guwahati-based 24x7 satellite news channel, Prime News, which had downed shutters since 1 October, 2013, and was planning to go on air January 2014 onwards, may not see the light of day after all.
Reason being the owner, Suresh Prithani of Brahmaputra Infrastructure, has transferred cameras and other equipment from the studio to his godown, and is said to be in talks with investors to sell off the erstwhile channel’s assets.
The channel was shut down on 1 October last year, after just a day’s notice from the management which cited a financial crisis as reason.
Prithani had purchased Prime News from its founder and head of Jeevan Suraksha Group, Chandan Das, in 2012, and was in discussions with short film director Rishi Raj Borkotoy to sell part of his stake in the channel for a sum of Rs 6 crore. However, Borkotoy went back on his word, forcing Prithani to “put cameras and other equipment of Prime News on sale,” an industry source revealed.
According to a former employee, “Prithani repeatedly made promises of increments and investments in the channel but never did anything to improve it. In fact, some senior journalists quit as he started interfering with the editorial policy, in a bid to maintain profits.”
As for Borkotoy, some media sources said, “The director had never pumped in Rs 6 crore to acquire a part stake. It was just a rumour.”
It is further learnt that when the channel shut shop, the management agreed to pay two months’ salary as compensation to all its employees. However, the amount was paid over a total of five months instead. More than 170 employees including journalists were left jobless by the channel’s closure.
A media analyst expressed the view that though Assam, with a population of over 30 million, supports 26 morning dailies, seven privately-owned satellite news channels with a few entertainment and cable channels, the state media got a jolt because of the sudden closure of two dailies in March followed by the closure of Prime News in October, last year.