22 Nov 2017
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NDTV restructures biz and resources amid challenges

MUMBAI: Fighting in appeal tribunals against charges of tax evasion and money laundering, news broadcaster NDTV is cutting costs. On Monday, NDTV said it is reorganising its newsroom and resources to focus on mobile journalism.

While stating that this is a trend among other news broadcasters around the world, NDTV has admitted that this move would save costs.

Under some kind of financial stress, NDTV has retrenched staff including camerapersons. The number of retrenched staff is likely to be between 60 and 70 of which around 35 camerapersons have become redundant with the introduction of high-grade smartphones, Outlook has reported. The remaining are said to be technical staff.

Recently, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) upheld part of the income tax department’s re-assessment of NDTV’s income. The fear among some of the NDTV staff is that there would be further job losses if the broadcaster is required to pay a huge tax liability.

NDTV, however, said that the court cases “are an attempt to punish NDTV for its award-winning objective journalism” and “do not influence how we run and operate our newsroom”.

The emphasis on restructuring is rooted in the broader financial climate and “our commitment to controlling costs”, NDTV clarified.

NDTV claims that it is the first major network in India whose reporters are all trained in using mobile phones to shoot stories. “This is not just about cost-cutting, though that is certainly, for us – like any other responsible business – an important factor in operations,” NDTV said.

NDTV will be moving the Delhi High Court against the ITAT verdict.

“Some media reports have completely misreported the recent order of the ITAT in a case related to the investment of $150 million in 2008 by GE/NBCU. These media reports are quoting from a press release by the Income Tax department which not just distorts the verdict, but outright lies about it,” NDTV said.

NDTV admits that the restructuring has led to some job losses. “As not just business models but broadcasting models change and evolve, we need to restructure. It would be irresponsible to viewers and to shareholders – as well as archaic – to maintain decades-old templates of how to shoot and edit. NDTV has long been valued for its commitment,to its employees – our record on attrition across more than 20 years is testament to this and spoken of across the industry. We have ensured fair compensation for those employees affected by our restructuring,” the news broadcaster said.