In a series of tweets, controversial journalist Barkha Dutt today made explosive revelations about the plight of journalists including herself employed at the Kapil Sibal promoted Tiranga TV. Barkha alleged that scribes working at Tiranga TV were abruptly sacked, without following the industry-wide practice of offering 6-months salary as compensation. She also alleged that she and other senior journalists hasn’t been paid for over a year by the channel.
Lashing out at the senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal and his wife, Barkha posted an elaborate Twitter thread raising her grievances against the veteran Congress leader and his channel’s alleged unprofessional behaviour. Barkha’s tweets confirmed the speculative reports of how employees of Tiranga TV were being unceremoniously fired from the company without being offered their due compensation. Barkha tweeted, “200 employees have had equipment confiscated and face sackings without even a 6-month payout.”
Kapil Sibal and his wife are currently on a vacation to London. Barkha had equated him with Mallya for fleeing the country while the employees in his company remained in profound distress. Dutt has claimed that she is also being threatened with defamation and instructed to withdraw her emails comparing Sibal with Mallya, the liquor tycoon accused of being a fugitive. Dutt has refused to take down the email, asserting that she would continue to stand by the staff of her organisation and help them in fighting the case legally.
According to the sources, the reason for sacking a number of journalists from the organisation is the acute cash crunch bedevilling the channel post-2019 Lok Sabha elections. After a landslide victory of PM Modi, the Congress leader promoted fortunes took a turn for the worse. Investors who were profusely pumping money into the channel backpedalled and stopped investing. Even the current investor has declined to fund the channel any further. The advertising revenues have dried up exponentially, making the channel almost ad-free.
One of the interesting facts in this otherwise gloomy lay-off scenario is Sibal and the other promoters’ strategy of holding PM Modi responsible for the channel’s depleting fortunes. The employees who were being sacked from the organisation were spuriously made to believe that their sacking was due to the Government of India’s unwarranted intervention. As revealed by Barkha in her tweets and also by another journalist who was sacked from the channel, this was just claptrap and the allegation that Government of India was interfering in the channel’s affairs didn’t hold water.
However, according to a source quoted by the Outlook India, the channel has not violated a single contract and has honoured each and every contract. The source said that some of the contracts at Tiranga TV had a 3-day notice period clause, which both the employer and the employee were entitled to exercise. The source also claimed that Barkha Dutt had come out to express her grievances only after her contract came to an end earlier this month.
In a bid to steer Kapil Sibal away from the controversy, the source claimed that Kapil Sibal was not involved in the venture and that his wife had launched the venture. However, Barkha has outrightly refuted this contention, saying that Kapil Sibal and his wife were both in the thick of the day-to-day operations of the channel. She also said that Kapil Sibal did all the interviews and cleared all the budgets.
Nonsense. Why are you giving a platform to lies by @KapilSibal. no contract has been honoured. My own contract requires Sibals to pay me full salary for a year which they have refused. Employees are being sacked with one month payments. And Have Proof of his ownership on emails
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 15, 2019
Barkha Dutt also slammed Outlook for “giving a platform to lies by Kapil Sibal”. Refuting the claims made in the Outlook article, she asserted that no contract has been honoured, and her own contract also requires the channel to pay her full salary for a year which they have refused. Dutt also said that she has proof of Sibal’s ownership of the channel in emails.
It is interesting to note that while the Outlook story says Barkha Dutt’s contract has ended last month, the channel is still running her show. Even today the channel is running promos of her show on the channel, Democracy Live.
Earlier this month, sacked employees of Tiranga TV staged a protest outside Kapil Sibal’s residence, demanding 6-month pay as compensation for their abrupt removal. They had also met Shekhar Gupta and submitted a memorandum to the Editors Guild of India. Journalists who have been fired from the organisation have contended that they were promised and assured a minimum of 2 years employment at Tiranga TV and after the Lok Sabha elections, which were manifestly disastrous for Congress, the channel proceeded on to an insidious track of firing the employees without following the due procedures.