Popular Bengali channels battle to stay on air

Kolkata, May 3 (IANS) While irate depositors of the Saradha Group, which has gone bust, have hit the streets, over 160 employees of its popular television channels, Tara News and Tara Muzik, are soldiering on regardless and are seeking support from their listeners worldwide to stay afloat.

The 160-odd employees, journalists as well as non-journalists of the two Bengali channels bought by the Saradha Group in 2011, said the battle to stay on air is their mode of protest against such shady firms.

They have been facing hard times since the managements of the two channels served closure notices just before the Bengali New Year Day, April 15, allegedly without giving salaries pending for the last three months.

“We are carrying on a stir. We hope the bad phase will disappear. We are sure that we will succeed,” Tara News anchor Anindita Kazi said Thursday evening.

“Our agitation is to make people aware of chit funds. We should ensure that no fraudulent companies could ever use the media in future,” she said.

The employees said they were exploring the possibility of running the two channels by forming a cooperative.

“We are like a single family. Some of the employees do not even have the money to travel from home. So they are staying at the office,” Tara News reporter Dipankar Nag said.

Meanwhile, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she had asked her lieutenant Mukul Roy, former union railway minister, to find ways to save the channels.

“A few days back, I saw some anchors crying on Tara (Muzik) channel. I asked Mukul what has happened. Mukul said they have not got their salaries for the past few months. I asked Mukul to find ways to ensure that the channel stays afloat and the employees get their salaries,” she said.

At the daily morning request programme on Tara Musik, popular anchors have sought support of their listerners, many of whom phone in from North America, if the government’s assurance doesnt pay off.

Acclaimed Rabindrasangeet exponent Amrita Dutta echoed the hope of its viewers and listeners Friday that the channels would be “out of danger” soon and would remain a source of joy for its fans.

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