When K P Abhilash, a news reader with Indiavision TV, a Malayalam news channel, began his show, ‘Happening Hours’, at 11 am on Thursday, the viewers were in for a surprise. The show was over in just 30 seconds—Abhilash announced that the news department was stopping operations in protest against the “anti-labour stand of the management”. Even for a state known for trade union militancy, this was a brand new way to strike.
The employees were protesting against the management which took disciplinary action against the journalists who complained of corruption in the organisation, the news reader said.
The trigger for the strike was the termination notice served to Executive Editor M P Basheer and News Co-coordinator V Unnikrishnan. “Disbursement of salary has been erratic. Journalists have demanded technical upgradation and a probe into the corruption in the management,” said sources.
By evening, the management was able to get a few journalists to run the news show. However, several senior journalists close to the sacked executive editor kept away from work. “The agitation is still on but the management has got a few journalists to resume the news operations,” said sources. The news channel ran archival footage till 8 pm when Abhilash returned again, apologising for the interruption. He attributed it to a technical glitch. Despite repeated attempts, Resident Director Jamaludheen Farook was not available for comments.
Indiavision, the first 24-hour news channel in Kerala, was launched in 2003. The channel, promoted by Indian Union Muslim League leader M K Muneer, is known for its aggressive reporting. In 2011, the channel carried out a sting operation on former judges, politicians and others to expose how the infamous ice cream parlour sex scandal case, in which politicians—including IUML’s own P K Kunhalikkutty—and bureaucrats were involved, was scuttled. Recently, the channel had detailed reports based on the allegations of ex-personal attendant of Mata Amritanandamayi.
Sources said Ashish Khetan will be the vice-chairman of the commission.