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Network 18 hands out pink slips to 325 employees

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  • Network 18 hands out pink slips to 325 employees

    Network 18 hands out pink slips to 325 employees

    As part of a massive restructuring plan, the Network 18 Group today has handed out pink slips to an estimated 325 employees across its channels. “A large number of people have been asked to leave. The section that has been hit the most in the process of retrenchment are cameramen and technicians. Many morning news anchors have also been asked to leave,” said a source in the know.

    Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief IBN 18 network, late night, tweeted, “Hurt and pain can be lonely. You must grieve in solitude.”

    An employee in Mumbai, who was given the termination letter, said, “We were called to the office and were simply handed the letters. Almost the entire crew at IBN7 has been asked to leave. Those of us who have not been given the termination letters are in terror of being handed one any moment. Executives in Independent Media Trust and from the human resources department from the network sat at the round table putting the termination letters in the respective envelopes and stamping them. It looked like a post office, the way they were stamping letters in the conference room.”

    Another source added that journalists in CNBC TV18’s Delhi bureau have been assured that their jobs are secure. “We have, however, been told that the bureau will be left with almost no cameramen and technicians, as the newsroom for all channels will be integrated,” said the source.

    The pink slips are principally at TV18 Broadcast, the subsidiary of the listed company Network 18. TV18

    Broadcast operates CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN Lokmat, among others. Together the channels employ about 2,000, including journalists, camera persons and production staff.
    Sources said that most retrenchment is happening at CNN IBN and at IBN7. A mail sent to B Sai Kumar, Group CEO, Network18, did not elicit any response. Emails sent to CNBC’s PR agency and other employees too did not elicit any response.

    In January 2012, Reliance Industries made a major investment in TV18 through its Independent Media Trust. In July this year, Network18 had announced the setting up of ‘Network18 Business Newsroom’, an integrated newsroom comprising its market broadcast and digital news outlets. Network18 has a market cap of Rs 3,145 crore as on August 16. At the end of FY’13 the company has recorded a net loss of Rs 29.9 crore on total revenue of Rs 345.5 crore.

    Earlier this week, Dilip Venkatraman, CEO of CNN-IBN and IBN7, quit the company and was replaced in the interim by Ajay Chacko, COO, Network18.

    sacking order

    *Most retrenchment is happening at CNN IBN and at IBN7, which are also the ones with largest staff strength among the channels

    *The group employs about 2,000, including journalists, camera persons and production staff
    U MAD BRO?

  • #2
    A Network of Reliance

    RIL deal-Network18: Is Mukesh Ambani the new media mogul

    Media deals are rarely as complicated as the recent tie-up between Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) and the Raghav Bahl-promoted Network18 and TV18. Bahl and co-promoters such as Network18 Senior Professional Welfare Trust and Network Media and Investments own 57.95 per cent in Network18 and 50 per cent in TV18. Network18 is the promoter of TV18 which operates channels such as CNN-IBN, IBN7, IBN-Lokmat, CVBC-TV18 and CNBC Awaaz. The deal involves Ambani bailing out the debt-ridden Network18 and TV18 with an investment of Rs.3,800 crore in return for preferential access to Network18 and TV18's content. In what is a stroke of genius, Ambani has wrested 'control' of a large part of Indian electronic media with an out-of-the-box swap strategy. The content is for Ambani's foray into 4G broadband services. The deal is complex. Ostensibly, Ambani will not ultimately own any equity in Bahl's companies, both of which are listed entities. Instead, Bahl, 50, will end up merely 'transferring' Rs.2,100 crore worth of Ambani's equity in the Andhra Pradesh-based Eenadu TV media group to his companies (see box). In the process, Ambani has managed to extricate Rs.2,600 crore he invested in 2008 in Ramoji Rao-founded Ushodaya Enterprises. At the same time, corporate governance issues have also been raised over the manner in which the deal has been inked.
    At the centre of the deal are two forthcoming public rights issues worth Rs.2,700 crore each of Network18 and TV18, probably in the month of April. In effect, the total amount raised by Bahl and his co-promoters will be far lower than Rs.5,400 crore. Since Network18 owns a stake in TV18, the rights issues will effectively be worth Rs.4,000 crore. Under the deal, Ambani's Indian Media Trust has promised Rs.1,700 crore to Bahl and his co-promoters. Bahl will use these funds to subscribe to the proposed rights issues, which in turn could be used by him to retire his debt. Moreover, the instrumentality offered by Indian Media Trust owned by RIL is an optionally convertible debenture which has every possibility of turning into equity. Analysts say that going forward, Ambani will turn into a majority stake-holder of Network 18 and TV18 through this mechanism.
    On the surface it appears to be a win-win situation for Bahl, but in reality it is clear that Ambani has a vice-like grip on both Eenadu and TV18 operations. This is why the RIL-owned Indian Media Trust has given a commitment to cover any shortfall in the rights issue.
    The deal will, however, give Bahl some elbow room. He will use Rs.2,100 crore of the money raised from the rights issue to pay for Ambani's stake in Eenadu TV. Of the balance Rs.1,900 crore, Rs.1,430 crore will be used to retire debt of Network18 and TV18. By retiring debt, Bahl will save around Rs.250 crore on interest cost a year. When that saving is added to the Rs.430 crore left over from the rights issue, Bahl will have close to Rs.680 crore at his disposal after the transaction.
    Advisory firm KRIS head Arun Kejriwal reckons there is only one victor in this complex transaction-Mukesh Ambani. He says, "Mukesh will be able to call the shots in both ETV and TV18 without being labelled promoter. Moreover, he has now made good his investment which had soured in ETV."
    Ramoji Rao was the architect of N.T. Rama Rao's meteoric rise as a politician as his Telugu Desam Party overturned Congress's fortunes in Andhra Pradesh. When Ramoji Rao's chit fund Margadarsi Financiers was in distress, Mukesh Ambani bailed him out in 2008. By then Rao was close to NTR's son-in-law N. Chandrababu Naidu. It is the super premium valuation that RIL first paid in 2008-Rs.2,600 crore to acquire stake in the Rs.525-crore ETV-that made the market wonder. IDFC Securities in its research report stated, "The value paid by RIL may not represent the true value of the asset as it involved other considerations between the transacting parties." There had earlier been many twists in the ETV story. Private equity firm Blackstone Capital Partners first evinced interest in ETV, but this deal fell through due to political pressure from then chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy. JM Financial Chairman Nimesh Kampani entered the equation, but just about everyone knew that he was a proxy for Mukesh Ambani. Ambani formally picked up stake when Kampani was implicated in the Nagarjuna Finance scam, resulting in a non-bailable warrant being issued.
    Under the terms of the deal, India Today has learnt that Network18 will have 100 per cent control over the news channels of ETV, but only 50 per cent of the entertainment operation. As much as 24.5 per cent of the Telugu channels has been retained by Reliance Industries, making it part owner. This way Ambani keeps a foot in the door by retaining an equity stake in ETV's entertainment and Telugu operations.
    Ambani, 54, recently acquired Infotel Broadband, Ambani's broadband arm, bought a 38.5 per cent stake in digital learning solutions firm Extramarks Education. An 'unlimited budget' will bankroll Ambani's new hunger for media. Expect more acquisitions in new media, say RIL insiders.
    Ambani has been opposed to the idea of a direct presence in media, but this secretive 2008 foray is a break with the past. In one fell swoop, Ambani has carved up a swathe in the Indian media. He is in the mood for more. With a warchest of Rs.67,000 cr, Ambani is the new media mogul.

    U MAD BRO?


    • #3
      Having a media house in control gives a lot of power in the political corridors ...
      Play To Win or Don't Play At All
      Always Expect The Unexpected


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