A new Television News Channel backed by Congress leaders, titled Harvest TV is going to be launched in January in the run-up to the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections with noted journalists and anchors. The channel will be known as HTV and is learned to be supported by top Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and corruption cases accused P Chidambaram. According to intelligence agencies, Rs.200 crores of fund infusion offer in two years has been given to the firm Veecon Media and Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd. by Chidambaram, who has been accused of several instances of graft.
The Congress leaders have asked many anti-BJP journalists to join and Barkha Dutt is expected to be the host of the prime time daily news show. In journalism circles, the Congress-backed channel has approached a battery of journalists to run the show. Congress leaders have also wanted Rajdeep Sardesai to join the bandwagon. This channel owning firm Veecon Media already has new channel licenses in English, Hindi and other regional languages and will soon start a Hindi channel also after the launch of English news channel. This venture will counter the pro-BJP propaganda by Arnab Goswami’s Republic TV, said a senior Congress leader close to Sibal.
Karnataka bagman D K Shivakumar and Naveen Jindal are also expected to support this venture. According to sources, Sibal is the driving force who has convinced the party leadership of a friendly TV channel to counter BJP and Sangh Parivar. This is not the first move of Sibal in the media field. Sibal was among the first donors of tainted Tarun Tejpal’s Tehelka Magazine, which specialized in attacking BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Harvest TV’s first name was VEE News and later changed to Shri S7 News. The channel owner Veecon Media, having offices in Sector 5, Noida and Malviya Nagar in Delhi, obtained news channel licenses in 2009 during the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime. Somehow VEE News and S7 News did not take off and Congress leaders who felt badly in need of a dedicated TV channel, have approached the promoters of Veecon Media.
Lalit Kumar Srivastava and US-based Jaswant Kumar Srivastava are the promoter Directors of Veecon Media, re-launching Harvest with the support of Sibal and Chidambaram. These two Directors are also expected to put investments in BIG TV, engaging in Dish TV services which were earlier owned by Anil Ambani. Intelligence agencies reported that though these two persons will be shown as Directors, the Congress leaders “backed” persons have obtained 90 percent ownership in the firm. Chidambaram’s close friend, a lady businesswoman running a company manufacturing pens is expected to join the Board of Veecon Media, say the agencies, doubting re-routing of Chidambaram’s huge money earned through corruption.
According to the intelligence agencies, Chidambaram has offered to pump Rs.200 crores in a two year time period in installments, to Harvest TV. The agencies are keeping a watch on the fund flow pointing out the initial fund flow to Harvest TV, shown as share sales of Veecon Media to newly inducted Directors. The Intelligence agencies also prepared a dossier on Chidambaram’s covert investment in an English newspaper from 2003. According to the dossier, Chidambaram’s money was covertly portrayed as owning 14 percent shares in the English newspaper in the name of an Editor and his wife.
Intelligence agencies reported to concerned authorities that there are many objectionable issues in the Harvest TV’s project, citing certain violations in the shareholding pattern and Information Broadcasting Ministry’s guidelines and money flow pattern. The agencies also pointed out a series of violations and defaults in frequency allotment to the new TV channel, a dream child of Congress.
After the launch of the English news channel in January, the Hindi channel will also be launched soon. The Congress leaders are thinking of bringing senior Hindi journalists like Punya Prasun Bajpai or Ravish Kumar as the main anchor of the Hindi version of Harvest TV. It is learned that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashutosh may also join the bandwagon of anti-BJP journalists in this channel.