Barun Das ends his association with Harvest TV. Read why
Published - 11-February-2019
Barun Das, former Zee News CEO and now a consultant to news organisations, has ended his association as a consultant with newly launched English news channel Harvest TV.
Das, for the last three years or so, has been an entrepreneur and has been running a health app and also consulting for various news organisations like Sahara TV at one point of time.
However, nearly two weeks back, Das fell out with the promoters of Harvest TV, including Deepak Choudhary and also with a firm controlled by Mrs. Kapil Sibal.
Incidentally, in the past, the stakeholders have been trying very hard to showcase that it is not Kapil Sibal’s channel and that it is a neutral entity. However, the letter that Das wrote about ending his association with the channel was addressed to Mr. Kapil Sibal. When exchange4media contacted Deepak Choudhary about the development, he said, “Barun Das stepped down after mutual settlement.”
exchange4media is in possession of the letter and the contents of the letter raise these questions:
- Why did Barun Das not address the letter to Deepak Choudhary?
- What is Mr. Kapil Sibal’s role at Harvest TV?
We at exchange4media understand that Mrs. Sibal’s company has an arrangement for content and marketing with Harvest TV.
Here are the contents of the letter:
“Dear Mr. Sibal
Many congratulations. Your channel has gone on air at 6.58 am this morning.
Any words of appreciation for the entire team would be inadequate. They all have accomplished something which was considered impossible till this morning. You now have a channel which can potentially emerge as a leader going forward.
Over the past few weeks, an issue has caused some practical inconvenience and some psychological distress for me, personally. Kindly accept this as a humble submission in your interest and pardon me if I convey anything else with my words and expressions.
This is about the way Mrs. Sibal has been coming to office and holding her meetings with staff members without involving me. She has mostly been very disdainful, rather disparaging, towards me in front of my team and even outsiders, when I had tried to involve myself in any discussion that she was holding.
The fact is that her approach is completely contrary to the consultancy contract that she has signed with me. As per the contract, and the authorisation matrix, which is an integral part of the contract, I am supposed to be the one who is in-charge of the entire organisation, barring editorial. All departmental heads report to me. I am answerable to the board on a monthly basis. While the breach of contract is an issue, I could’ve still lived with it.
Then comes the insult and ignominy that I’ve faced because of her disdainful attitude towards me in front of teams and at times, outsiders. That has been a blow to my mental state of being and I strongly feel it is difficult to put up with that.
Most importantly, this has created confusion in the organisation about the chain of command. That is my biggest issue as a professional, as I believe it is not in your or Mrs. Sibal’s interest. You hired a professional and you are paying me for my professional services and I along with the team, have lived up to your expectations in achieving the first goal of launching today against all odds. So, I am wondering why you would not let me function as per the terms of the contract.
Therefore, under the prevailing circumstances, it is extremely uncomfortable for me to attend office. In any case, counting tomorrow, I would have attended office on 22 days in the calendar month of January 2019, as against the committed 18 days as per my contract.
Hence I would like to proceed on leave from Monday, 28th onward for a week. In this one week, you could induct a new management team who will take it up from here to carry out the channel’s operations under the leadership of Mrs. Sibal along with able assistants. I hope they would live up to your dreams and make it a force to reckon with in times to come. I would adjust the additional services of 4 days during the month of February or otherwise. However, if required I will be available for any handing over formalities.
I look forward to meeting you or speaking to you, immediately, to negotiate and agree on terms of the premature termination of my contract w.e.f a mutually agreed day. I am sure you would be generous and fair in such a discussion, given your stature and given what I have delivered to you so far. I value my association with you and would love to be around to be a part of any venture where you would see merits in my limited capability and allow me a free hand to perform.
In case you do not wish to terminate the contract under terms which we would need to arrive at, then we should discuss and deliberate and agree on how we could stick to the terms of my agreement as far as handling operations is concerned going forward.
Hope the spirit behind this mail would be rightly seen as it is in the best interest of your business and my self-respect.”
When Das was contacted by exchange4media he tried to downplay the letter. Now, Vishnu Shankar, a TV News broadcast editorial leader is the editorial leader of the channel and was reportedly brought in by Das.
Both Barkha Dutt and Karan Thapar also have a show each on Harvest TV.
Harvest TV is in its early days and it would be interesting to watch how it responds to Das’s letter and also what fresh business talent it attracts.