Thanks to multicrore investment scam, Tara News and Tara Muzik are facing closure

The West Bengal government is moving to take over two city-based television channels — Tara News and Tara Muzik — both facing closure in the wake of the multicrore scam in collective investment schemes involving their owner, the Saradha Group.

A section of the employees refused to accept the closure notice served in mid-April and is keeping the channels on air.

A law or ordinance is required and on receiving assent, the channels will be taken over, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Thursday.

An ex gratia payment of Rs.16,000 would be made to the 168 employees of the two channels for the month, she said. But the government would not take over the liabilities of the two channels, running up to Rs.6 crore. An employee’s association would oversee their functioning.

The takeover decision followed an appeal by employees. It was on “humanitarian grounds” that Rs. 26 lakh was provided to the two channels last month from the sales proceeds of her paintings, Ms. Banerjee said.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Surya Kanta Mishra, however, said government takeover was no solution to the problem at hand.

Raising doubts over legality of the move, he pointed out that several other media organisations of the Saradha Group had also closed down or were not being run properly. What would be their fate?

The interests of employees and depositors who invested in the company’s Ponzi scheme should be taken care of with the funds available from auctioning the company’s properties by the government, Dr. Mishra asserted.

The government move is significant against the backdrop of Ms. Banerjee’s frequent criticism of a section of the electronic media as being biased against her government. She has also repeatedly pointed out that her party, the Trinamool Congress, has no channel to support it.