The Saradha chit fund case has come as a wakeup call for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB). Besides putting in jeopardy thousands of investors’ hard-earned money, the scam has also affected the various TV channels, newspapers and magazines run by the Saradha Group, most of which have been shut down, rendering several jobless.
As a fallout of Saradha Group’s collapse and in a bid to do a quick scan of the shareholding pattern and equity structure of the television channels operating in the country, the MIB sent a notice on Friday, April 26, 2013, seeking details of all directorial changes, shareholdings process and equity structure. Broadcasters have been given 15 days’ time to send in the required information.
Talking to exchange4media exclusively, Uday Varma, Secretary, MIB said, “The objective is to get a record of all the channels and find out if there has been any change in their shareholding structure.”
This is the first time that the 800+ channels that have been approved and have been granted license by the Government are required to provide such information.
An employee of a leading broadcaster, on condition of anonymity, admitted that the broadcaster has received such a letter from the MIB. “If the Government has asked for such information, we will have to provide it,” the employee said.
When asked what step the Government will take if a channel is found guilty on any of the parameters, Varma replied, “If we find any violation by a channel, we will follow the due process and send a show cause notice. We might even cancel the licence of the channel.”
For the record, among the publications run by Saradha Group, under the banner of Saradha Printing and Publication, are Bengali newspaper Sakal Bela, Urdu paper Azad Hind, Hindi daily Prabhat Varta and English paper Bengal Post. The Group also publishes the magazine ‘Paroma’.
The group was also running channels such as Tara Newz, Tara Muzik and South Asia TV, which have been shut down since the chit fund scam came to light. The group’s other channel, Tara TV, is currently being run by the channel’s employees association.