TV9 Bangla editor Anjan Bandyopadhyay's departure raises hackles

Reason: He left to join rival Zee 24 Ghanta practically on the eve of the channel's launch.

NEW DELHI: Just days before the launch of TV9 Bangla, the channel has found itself in a quandary after its editor Anjan Bandyopadhyay up and left to join rival channel Zee 24 Ghanta.

Bandyopadhyay, a senior journalist with over 33 years of experience, confirmed that he has resigned from TV9 Bangla and returned to Zee 24 Ghanta. As editor, he would be presiding over the input and output of all content and digital properties, as the channel looks to bolster its position in the regional news space.

“I have joined Zee 24 Ghanta. I was one of the founding members here. So it’s like coming back home. Whatever is expected out of a journalist, I will do my level best to drive it to the top,” said Bandyopadhyay, who was associated with Zee 24 Ghanta from 2006 to 2015 before he moved to ABP-Digital. 

The move has drawn sharp reactions from the TV9 network, which resented his sudden exit. "It is completely unethical and unprofessional. As an editor, he was privy to all major decisions regarding content, marketing plan and the quarterly targets. We tried talking to him, but it did not yield results. All appropriate action will be taken to protect our interest,” declared TV9 Bangla  business head Gautam Sarkar,  adding that Bandhyopadhyay is yet to be relieved from his position by the company.

Amritanshu Bhattacharya, who headed TV9 Bengali Digital, has now been roped in to lead the editorial operations. Bhattacharya has 25 years' experience during which he has worked with Jugantar, Aajkaal, ETV, and Zee Media. 

“At TV9 it is the project team that is important. The individual is important only to the extent of their role in the team. Without missing one heartbeat, Amritanshu Bhattacharya has already moved into that role. And more importantly, TV9 Network’s reputation as a people’s organisation precedes us. At a time when the biggest names in the industry rolled back salaries citing the pandemic, we gave an across-the-board hike to all employees in November with retrospective effect, as a token of our appreciation for putting their hand up during the same pandemic. While organisations are culling staff, we are on a massive expansion spree, hiring more than 500 journalists. So, the mood is upbeat, the staff is rearing to go. Our plans stand, our FPC stands, our launch date stands. See you on Sankranti, Bengal,” shared TV9 group editor Venkat Rao. 

He remarked that Bandyopahdyay's decision was disappointing and does not show him in a good light. “To be involved in a launch, and leaving  without citing any professional reason and showing up with a direct competitor the very next day is in very poor taste. He has belied our trust. ‘Untrustworthy’ is not a good tag to wear for a professional. He is a nice guy who has made a terrible decision, so as a fellow journalist, I am concerned for him,” he added. 

Senior media professionals concur. On the condition of anonymity, one expressed: "Bengali news community is a small bunch of people. And yes journalists do move around between the various channels, but Bandhyopadhyay's overnight move is not a done thing, it beats all employee-employers ethics and reeks of bad taste. He should find ways of building rapprochement with TV9 Bangla, now that he has taken that impulsive step. It's a small market." 

After its long run successful in the regional news industry down south, TV9 network had announced its foray into the regional news space in the poll-bound West Bengal. Bandyopadhyay was brought onboard to lead the editorial team as the channel prepared to enter the competitive market. 

However, Zee 24 Ghanta has already established its foothold in the regional news space over the last decade and has been enjoying a large share of the viewership in the state.  

But TV9's aggressive moves in the West Bengal market could see Zee 24 Ghanta facing a tough fight. Its CEO Barun Das has vowed that he wants to supercharge  the newcomer to the number two spot within two months.

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