Trouble at News X

IN Media Practice | 02/02/2008
"If we need to open out books to the finance ministry then we will...." Letters from the dramatis personae that are doing the rounds.

My Resignation Letter


from: Narendra Nag to: Vynsley Fernandes cc: nick pollard, saubhik chakrabarti,Dhruva Sen, Indrani Mukerjea, Peter Mukerjea date Feb 1, 2008 12:49 PM

subject My dismissal


Dear Vynsley,


In a meeting with anchors on Thursday, January 31, 2008, NewsX chairperson Indrani Mukerjea told some of my colleagues that I, along with others like Executive Editor Avirook Sen, Head of Domestic News Rajesh Sundaram and Editorial Adviser Nick Pollard would be asked to leave NewsX "very soon". My email was blocked soon after -- around 6.30 Thursday evening.


That I had to find out my services are no longer required in this manner has left me shocked and disappointed -- especially, considering the email you sent me just last week praising my good work since I joined here April 1, 2007. In the same email you told me I was up for a raise.


As you may appreciate, these events have made my position here untenable. That you would not know about my dismissal -- as you and Dhruva indicated in our conversation late Thursday evening when I returned the laptop issued to me is difficult for me to believe.


In recent times I have seen, with increasing dismay, the manner in which this

organisation has been run: the scant regard for journalists is only the tip of the iceberg -- the manner in which senior management has chosen to operate leaves me with the firm conviction that professionalism is a word to be bandied about but disregarded in every activity -- that respect and dignity are alien concepts -- that NewsX has become an organisation few would want to work for and almost no one would hold as an example of how a world class news channel should be created, or run. You may, of course, choose to disagree. As one of the first few employees of this place, it pains me greatly that I have been summarily dismissed in so cavalier a fashion -- I can only hope for the sake of those people who continue to work at NewsX that Thursday¿s dismissals -- Avirook Sen, Arun Roy Chowdhury, Kailash Menon, Rajesh Sundaram and myself -- are exceptions rather than the rule.


I am writing in protest against the complete lack of professionalism of Mrs Indrani Mukerjea and the way she has ridden rough shod over all journalistic ethics. The last straw was the mistreatment of the channel¿s Executive Editor by a band of security guards and junior managers acting at the behest of the top management Thursday evening. Such an incident is unparalleled in the history of Indian journalism. Not only do I question Mrs Indrani Mukerjea¿s credentials to run a channel, I am also perturbed by questions about the source of her funds. She has told the press that she owns over 60 per cent of NewsX. Is this her own money, or is she fronting for somebody? I believe an investigation is called for.


Please let me know my earliest date of release as per the terms of my contract.


Warm regards,

Narendra Nag







Sometime after six last evening, four people summoned a 24-year-old producercalled Kailash Menon to the basement of NewsX headquarters. He was then intimidated into signing a prepared resignation letter. No grounds for removal were offered.


 As Executive Editor of the channel, I went to confront the four people who had coerced him illegally into putting his signature on a letter he did not compose. Instead, I was called down to the basement and threatened with criminal action if I didn¿t resign forthwith by Ajay K Sharma, Group Head (Legal), Dhruva Sen, Group Head (HR), Suresh Nagpal, CFO, NewsX and Nabanita Guha, HR Head Delhi.


When I asked what the grounds for criminal charges were, and indeed for my

dismissal, they declined to tell me. Instead they said, they would be terminating services unilaterally. I asked for a termination letter in writing. While such a letter was being prepared, four security guards and four members of middle and senior management descended on my office, they manhandled me and tried to snatch my laptop from me. When I said I would be happen to return the laptop but needed to delete some personal files, they surrounded me. Other personnel stood at the door of my office and forcibly restrained members of my staff from entering. Simultaneously, my driver was intimidated and car keys snatched from him.


 I am challenging my dismissal legally. But, what is most shocking is how INX

treats senior journalists. Yesterday¿s incident is unprecedented in the history of Indian journalism.



Avirook Sen


February 1, 2008




Letter to staff from Peter this morning


Statement from INX News Pvt Ltd


There have been rumours in the media circles, about the circumstances

pertaining to the end to the termination of the services of Mr Avirook Sen,

Executive Editor of News X, the forthcoming English news channel of INX News

Pvt Ltd.  We would like to state the company was forced to summarily terminate Mr Sen¿s services because he was found to be utilising his office laptop to access pornographic content on the internet. This is violative of company policy besides being illegal as per the law of the land. Consequently Mr Sen¿s employment agreement was terminated



Dear All,


Last Tuesday Peter and I met with you all and outlined the vision and road map of our news channel. Since then we have met with several of you in groups and individually to understand your views and how we can work towards a smooth launch of News X. After meeting all of you, we were even more convinced that there is nothing to stop us from achieving our objective together.


As a part of the process, in going forward, it was unfortunate that we had to let go of some of our colleagues yesterday but what is more imp is to look ahead.


We have also heard that some unfriendly sources are tyring to cause concern in the minds of professionals who come from print background, Let me assue you that in INX, you will be judged by your commitment professionalism and hard work that you put in here and not by the backgournd that you come from. Nobody needs to be apprehensive of the future or worry about their positions or career in News X here on.


Let me reiterate that we stand fully committed, with the support of the entire INX network to the success of this channel.


I am also pleased to inform you that we have finalised the editorial head, and the newsroom head - both come from very sold news and television background and have a high standing in the industry.


The news room head will be joining next week, and is looking forward to working with you


Indrani Mukerjea




Peter Mukerjea

INX Media


No issues on funding. In fact we are very clear on all those matters and I dont

have any concerns on that. The stories about how a serious journalist was

treated is a HR related private matter  which we will resolve in due course. Only 5 journalists have left, 300 are still there and there is no need to panic.There is no change in our day to day operations. Plans to launch channel are on track. We will launch sometime around March 15


As for reports of senior editor being manhandled, the head of HR and legal were dealing with the matter, and the other people in the office who were there, have confirmed to us that there was no such incident but I was not physically there.


I have issued a letter to all staff to clarify and explain to them about the issues raised in the letter written by Nagendra Nag about our financials. We had to part ways with 4-5 people who are seriously disgruntled and they have gone and seen the I&B minister. Maybe we neet to go meet him as well. If we need to open out books to the finance ministry then we will....


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