TV9 founder V Ravi Prakash vows to fight builders, contractors’ lobby in journalism
Founder of TV9 V Ravi Prakash has vowed to fight against “builders and contractors”, who he said took over the management of the popular television news channel network “through backdoor methods”.
Ravi Prakash was sacked as the chief executive officer and director of the channel last week on charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy. Hyderabad Police have served a notice under Section 41 of the Criminal Procedure Code (liable for arrest without warrant or magisterial order) against him.
In an exclusive interview to Hindustan Times, Ravi Prakash made it clear that he had never come in the way of the new management taking over the reins of the company.
The TV9 group of channels was founded by Associated Broadcasting Company Private Limited (ABCL). In August last year, Alanda Media and Entertainment Limited, jointly promoted by real estate major My Home Group and construction giant Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Limited (MEIL) bought the majority shares in the company, which went up 90.54% in April this year.
“It is ridiculous on the part of the majority shareholders to think that I can take over the management with minority shares. In fact, it was a classic case of majority shareholders pressing ‘false’ and ‘baseless’ charges to shun me out of the system forcefully,” Ravi Prakash said.
Explaining the developments over the last nine to ten months, Ravi Prakash said a group of investors headed by MEIL signed an agreement in August 2018 with the promoters of TV9 to acquire a majority stake in ABCL through Alanda Media.
“I was very much a party to this transaction and as a part of the deal, I was supposed to continue as the founder-chairman and CEO of TV9, while retaining by minority share in the company,” he said.
However, within a couple of months, My Home Group had become the majority shareholder in Alanda Media which acquired ABCL shares.
“This was a surprise to me and I realised the My Home Group entered the channel through a backdoor. In September 2018, the National Company Law Tribunal issued a restraint order on alienating any shares or assets of the company, but both the old and new investors did not pay heed to the order,” he alleged.
The TV9 founder said he had never denied the entry of new directors into the board nor their involvement in the operations of the company. “Yet, they conducted illegal board meetings and EGMs to exercise the provisions of the company law and finally, removed me as the CEO citing reasons of non-performance,” he said.
He claimed that the TV9 group had always recorded profits and more recently for the financial year 2018-19, it had shown a record turnover of Rs 255 crore with a CAGR of 18%. “I don’t know whether it can be termed as non-performance,” he said.
While feigning ignorance on the conditions that prompted original promoter Srini Raju to sell the company to new promoters, Ravi Prakash, however, said he knew for sure the company was grossly undervalued in the transaction.
He denied allegations that TV9 was indulging in unethical journalism.
“These days, social media has become a platform to cry foul when the other side does not like the point of view. We never allowed any TV9 journalist to handle marketing tie-ups or tie up a paid slot. We always held our credo to airing correct news, fastest,” he claimed.
Stating that he still believes in the justice system in India, Ravi Prakash expressed hope that he would get out of the whole controversy unscathed.
“I am a journalist and will continue to take TV9’s credo of fighting for a better society. This will be not yielding to the pressures of builders and contractors pressures in this country,” he said.