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A new TV News Channel backed by Congress leaders to be launched ahead of general elections

Barkha Dutt, Karan Thapar, Punya Prasun Bajpai, and several well known names are expected to be part of the new venture

According to a report, a new Television News Channels is going to be launched in the month of January, which is backed by Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram. The channel will reportedly be titled Harvest TV or HTV and will have noted journalists and anchors from existing media houses. Sibal was also among the contributors of Tehelka Magazine co-founded by Tarun Tejpal who was accused of sexual assault by a woman colleague in 2013.

The report claims that P Chidambaram has offered to pay Rs. 200 crore to Veecon Media and Private Broadcasting Ltd over a period of two years in instalments. Veecon Media has licences for new channels in English, Hindi and other languages, and it will start the Hindi channel after the English channel is launched. Journalists like Punya Prasun Bajpai, former AAP leader Ashutosh and Ravish Kumar are expected to be hosting the Hindi channel. Several anti-BJP journalists have been asked by the Congress leaders to join the channel and Barkha Dutt is expected to be the host of a Prime Time show on the English channel, and Karan Thapar will also join the channel. Rajdeep Sardesai is also wanted by the Congress leaders.

It can be noted that speculations of Congress leaders launching a news channel was doing the rounds for several months. When few journalists had left ABP news including Punya Prasun Bajpai, several politicians and journalists had alleged that they were forced to leave due to pressure from the government. There was a huge outrage that the media houses are firing journalists at the behest of Modi government. But at the same time, some people had informed that journalists had left their jobs to join a new channel to be started by Kapil Sibal.

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Now it seems that the rumours of several journalists joining a channel promoted by Congress leaders is correct, and the journalists were not forced to leave their jobs, they left on their own. It is important to note that journalist Shekhar Gupta’s portal The Print, with which Barkha has a mysterious relationship, has also reported about the launch of Harvest TV and other channels from the group.

A senior Congress leader said that the channel will counter the “pro-BJP propaganda by Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV”, says the report. Lalit Kumar Srivastava and US-based Jaswant Kumar Srivastava are the promoter Directors of Veecon Media. Karnataka Congress leader D K Shivakumar and Naveen Jindal are also expected to support the channel. According to PGurus, while these two persons will be shown as Directors, the Congress leaders have acquired 90% stack in the media house. The report says that attempts were made to launch the channel earlier as well in 2009, during the UPA regime when the owner firm Veecon Media had obtained News channel licenses. It was earlier called VEE News and was later renamed as Shri S7 News.

According to the report, the Intelligence Agencies have reported to the concerned authorities about some objectionable issues in the Harvest TV project including certain violations in the shareholding pattern, the I&B Ministry guidelines, the money flow pattern and a series of violations in frequency allotment to the News channel.

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