news Wednesday, March 25, 2015 - 05:30
The News Minute | March 25, 2015 | 2,50 pm IST “Reporter TV has financial problems, but it is not in a crisis. Running a news channel is not a profitable business. Those who want to make profit start entertainment channels. In whose interest is it to lock me up in jail without mercy? There will be more attempts to fulfill that interest in the future. But I have no fear.” This is what popular journalist and CEO of Malayalam news channel 'Reporter', MV Nikesh Kumar wrote on his channel’s website following news of his arrest for tax violation. On Monday, media reports said that Nikesh Kumar had been arrested by Central Board of Excise and Customs for evading service tax, and later released on bail after the channel paid the dues. Reports suggested that bail was granted after he paid Rs 1.12 crore in the court, and agreed to pay the remaining amount by July 30. On Monday morning, a team of Excise officials had visited Reporter TV’s office at Kalamassery and asked him to pay the tax immediately. Meanwhile CPIM politburo member Pinarayi Vijayan has come out in support of Nikesh on his Facebook page, saying that the government’s move was to threaten freedom of press. On Tuesday, Nikesh wrote a detailed blog narrating his version of what happened and calling it an attempt to muzzle his channel. He says that television channels normally receive advertisement revenue payments within three months of receipt (in rare cases) and six months (in normal circumstances), while some clients don’t pay it at all. Nikesh says that the channel had legally challenged the Excise department’s move to levy tax on an amount that had not yet been paid by advertisers. “We are bound to pay the tax. We have to get almost Rs 6 crore from the advertisers, we can pay the tax once the amount due is paid to us,” he wrote. However Nikesh Kumar alleged a conspiracy behind his arrest and sudden action from the department. “I had requested them many times to avoid the arrest that I will pay the complete amount within few hours, but they neither agreed nor allowed me to talk to the Commissioner. They wanted my arrest not the money,” he alleged. “Since the officers did not help me, the other option was to seek help from BJP leaders at the centre or State ministers, so I decided rather than calling them I will choose to go to jail,” he added. He alleged that officers were in such a tearing hurry to take him to jail that they even forgot to prepare a charge sheet that was to be submitted in court. “The court criticized the officers for their irresponsibility,” he added. “Since the time websites carried news of my arrest, many of my friends have been sending money to my account and I was able to get enough money to pay tax,” he said in the article. He also wrote that these were challenges in bringing up an independent news media. “Reporter TV was started as there was a need for an independent media house- a channel that gives complete independence to reporters and behaves responsibly on socio-political issues. A new generation of reporters in passionately in love with news, reporters who don’t accept even a cup of tea from others and do not suck up to politicians,” he wrote. Nikesh Kumar says he took a loan of Rs 12 crore from South Indian Bank, though he knew that it was not a profitable business. “I took a personal loan as I did not want to lose my freedom. Some find my growth dangerous. In whose interest is it to lock me up in jail without mercy? There will be more attempts to fulfill that interest.” he said. Nikesh Kumar's blog in Malayalam here. Roughly translated to English by The News Minute Tweet

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