news Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 05:30
Anisha Sheth | The News Minute | August 20, 2014 | 7.23 pm IST Bellary’s mining barons re-invented themselves into media magnates as they felt the need to “present” their side of the story but their spiralling fortunes appear to have left their media employees in the lurch. An unsigned and undated three-page letter has been circulating on the social media, asking the Chief Minister and other authorities to ensure that the employees of Kannada news channel Janasri News get their salaries overdue for several months. According to the channel’s website, Janasri News was launched in 2011 by Yash Broadcasting Industries Private Limited. However, it is well-known that the channel is owned by Bellary’s mining barons G Janardhana Reddy and his business associate and current MP from Bellary B Sriramulu.  G Janardhan Reddy Just six months after the Bellary mining barons began their media venture, Janardhan Reddy was arrested by the CBI, and Janasri was trying to prove their innocence. Having multiple cases against him, Janardhan Reddy has been unable to secure his release, without getting bail in each case. He has been in Bangalore Central Jail since September 2011, and a partial ban ordered by the Supreme Court is still in effect in Karnataka. The Reddy’s mining operations have not resumed, adversely affecting its media operations. In the last two weeks, the undated and unsigned letter has been the subject of much talk among journalists in the Karnataka media, given the allegations made against the senior editorial and managerial staff. The letter, which is addressed to the Chief Minister, is also marked to the Home Minister, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, the Labour Minister, the Law Minister, the Director of the Labour Department and Director of the regional Provident Fund office, and the police. However, it is unclear if the letter has actually been sent to any of these people.  They contain a number of allegations against specific members of the senior editorial and managerial staff, including pending salary payments, some of them related to misbehaving with women employees, misappropriation of funds, etc. These have not been reproduced here, but the writers of the unsigned and undated letter claim to have documents to support their allegations. The “aggrieved employees of Janasri” have given the management 10 days to fulfil their demands. Addressed to the chief minister, the letter reads: “We are writing this letter as we suspect that the labour department authorities are hand in glove with the management.” The first of the nine complaints reads: “In the last five months, we have been made to work like donkeys without pay... Sriramulu has been saying that he has no money, but there is no shortage of money for his expenses. He has crores of rupees to spend on the elections and..., but none to pay his poor journalist employees.” B Sriramulu According to a reporter with the channel, some senior journalists and others have left, because they could not wait any longer for the salary to come. “Those who are still here, are there because they cannot go anywhere else,” she said.  She said that the employees had not received their salaries for several months. Some had not been paid for two months, others for nearly five months. According to the letter, Janasri employees had not been paid for five whole months. The source said: “One instalment of payments had been made on August 14, and word is that the management will pay the rest on August 25, but nothing is certain.” The reporter also said that it is likely that the management has not deposited the PF contribution. She said that the fact had come to light when a reporter was assured of the provident fund being made available for medical treatment, but the man was left with a huge bill, forcing him to get another job. In Bangalore alone, Janasri has around 100 employees, and there are camerapersons and reporters in almost all the districts in the state.  Asked about the other allegations in the letter, the journalist said that the other points in the letter were before her time and if true, could not have come from anyone but a senior journalist who knew the senior staff well. The demands in the letter include: The employees must get PF, ESI and other benefits applicable to them since the launch of the channel Criminal cases must be filed against the people named in the complaint if the salaries are not released immediately. If any minister or authorities visit the office of the channel, the letter says the journalists are ready to sit down and discuss issues. The letter also claims that the writers have complained to the central government and the national broadcasters association to cancel the license given to the channel, after investigating the “irregularities and injustices” at the Janasri.
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