Changes likely at top level in INX News

Changes likely at top level in INX News

New Delhi: The INX saga isn’t over.

Despite the joint statement issued on Tuesday by Peter Mukerjea and Vir Sanghvi that the duo will resolve “differences that may have risen in a spirit of goodwill and friendship", it was clear on Wednesday that some top level changes are imminent at INX News.

At least four people familiar with the developments said that the Mukerjeas—Peter Mukerjea and his wife Indrani Mukerjea—and Sanghvi, a well-known journalist hired as chief executive officer of NewsX, the news channel to be launched by INX News, have decided to part ways, though not immediately.

INX News Pvt. Ltd is a subsidiary of INX Media Pvt. Ltd, a broadcast company promoted by Peter Mukerjea and Indrani Mukerjea with a clutch of private equity investors.

Peter Mukerjea, the former CEO of Star India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of Newscorp, is the chairman of INX Media, which runs two entertainment channels, 9X and 9XM.

Indrani Mukerjea chairs INX News. At the core of the problem are differences between Indrani Mukerjea and Sanghvi on running the news channel.

The four people said the Mukerjeas are now scouting for a new CEO and a chief editor and had approached at least three editors across television and print.

The mechanics of Sanghvi’s parting from the channel remain unclear. He holds a 3% stake in INX News.

The move comes after a long-drawn battle that played out through the media over the past two weeks, where reporters were fed various versions by people claiming to represent the two sides.

Sanghvi and the Mukerjeas, on Tuesday and Wednesday, jointly denied they were parting ways and said there was no change in their relationship and they continue to be “good friends and colleagues".

Tuesday’s joint statement came after a meeting in Mumbai on Monday evening that was attended by the Mukerjeas and representatives of private equity investors in the venture, which include Temasek, New Silk Route and New Vernon.

While some people claim the delays in the launch of the news channel have put pressure on Sanghvi, others, who claim to be his associates have maintained that these delays were being caused by the inefficiency of executives appointed by the chairperson (Indrani Mukerjea) and that Sanghvi was not being allowed to function independently.

Allegations of impropriety in the procurement of equipment were the next to surface, with a document detailing the charges, and attributing a delay of eight weeks to this, doing the rounds.

Mint could not independently verify the origin of this document or its authenticity.

Over the past weekend, allegations from both sides got murkier and it was clear to many independent observers that it would be difficult to sustain the partnership between Sanghvi and the Mukerjeas.

Vir Sanghvi is advisory editorial director for the Hindustan Times and a columnist for Lounge, the Saturday magazine of Mint. Both Mint and the Hindustan Times are published by HT Media Ltd.