What’s brewing at Aakash Aath?

KOLKATA: What’s brewing at the Bengali infotainment channel, Aakash Aath? If sources are to be believed, there’s an ongoing tussle between managing director Avik Dutta and investor Ashok Surana over transfer of shares. Furthermore, the channel is looking for an investor, according to them.

“Aaakash Aath is looking for investors as Surana might be asked to leave since he wants shares to be transferred against his investment,” revealed a source from the channel. “In fact, Surana and his daughter have refused salaries of employees as they did not get the shares. Dutta has promised to pay salaries for the month of March. The rift at Aakash Aath started lately after the new owner took control.”

Akash Bangla was re-launched as Aakash Aath in October last year. While Dutta remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts, Surana said Aakash Aath runs on software provided by Channel 8. When he joined hands with Sky Bangla, Aakash Bangla’s parent, the GRP of the channel was 9 and within five to six months, it shot up to around 56. He didn’t comment on the share transfer issue and added that people should find out the truth for themselves, if they so wished.

While a city-based media analyst said it was very difficult to find an investor for the channel.

Just last month, had reported that Aakash Aath was likely to launch a 24x7 Bengali news and current affairs channel in the next one year, for which, it had already applied to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for up-linking and down-linking licenses. However, the management had maintained there were no such plans to foray while clarifying that Surana was an investor and not the proprietor.

At the time, sources had hinted that some employees had been asked to leave the channel while others had been asked to look for better opportunities. To this, Surana had said that with the change in genre from news to infotainment, the re-shuffle was bound to happen.

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