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Before exit from Prasar shortlist,Tejpal firm got deal for 52 shows

There were serious talks around December about Tejpal taking over ‘Newsnight’.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi |
November 30, 2013 3:23:48 am

The move to induct Tehelka founder-editor Tarun Tejpal into the Prasar Bharati board may have been scuttled after he was accused of sexually assaulting a colleague,but Doordarshan is in a spot over a 52-episode series it commissioned from a Tejpal firm.

The state broadcaster had decided to collaborate with the firm,Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd.,for the series to commemorate 100 years of Indian cinema and paid half the commissioned amount of Rs 2 crore as advance. But Amaraman missed the November 15 deadline for showing the rough cuts.

Tejpal has the largest stake in the company and its other promoters include his siblings Neena Tejpal and Minty Tejpal,Trinamool Congress leader K D Singh and Shoma Chaudhury,Tehelka’s managing editor until Thursday.

“We have signed an agreement with Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd. — of which Tarun Tejpal is one of the promoters — for a 52-episode series on Indian cinema. We chose the company after its proposal was cleared by several committees,” Doordarshan director-general Tripurari Sharan told The Indian Express. “The (Prasar Bharati) board is usually not a part of such decisions. We chose them because they had the relevant expertise and had done such work earlier.”

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Asked if DD would go ahead with the collaboration following the Tehelka controversy,he said: “Don’t force me to take a decision on that.”

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar too remained non-committal about the fate of the project. “I am not sure about every operational matter in this because DD is competent to take a call on these kinds of things. Only if there is a crisis or if there is a policy matter does DD get in touch with us,” Sircar said.

Tejpal could not be reached on his mobile phone and did not respond to text messages seeking his comment. Neena Tejpal and Chaudhury refused to comment.

The TV series was the state broadcaster’s third attempt in the last one year to

collaborate with Tejpal.

DD held extended talks with Tejpal over the last few months for a news-based breakfast show that was to be anchored by him,among others,and produced under his “general supervision”.

Sharan said negotiations over the morning show had ended long before the present controversy erupted because DD and Tejpal had failed to reach an agreement about payment modalities.

Sources,however,indicate the issue had merely been kept suspended,although in the present circumstances talks are unlikely to be revived.

In the initial phase of “professionalisation” of DD News last year,it is learnt that there were serious talks around December about Tejpal taking over ‘Newsnight’,the prime time show on DD News.

There were some meetings between Tejpal and senior officials until,as a former DD official put it,the “system objected” to him being brought in.

Although there was a powerful section in the information and broadcasting ministry that was keen on installing Tejpal at the helm of the news-based programme,his talk of a new team and plans to overhaul the working of the channel raised the hackles of some,sources said.

The matter was given a quiet burial and journalist Sanjeev Srivastava brought in as a more acceptable candidate to head Newsnight.

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