NDTV group editor Barkha Dutt, one of India’s best-known television journalists, is stepping down from her full-time position at the broadcaster, to set up a media company.
She will continue as consulting editor and work on setting up her own media company and policy group. She will continue hosting two shows that she currently does at the channel—the daily Buck Stops Here and the weekly We The People.
"Barkha Dutt was only 23 when she joined NDTV as a young reporter cum producer... Now twenty years later we wish her all the very best as she embarks on yet another role with us. Barkha will be moving to the role of Consulting Editor... While her TV relationship with NDTV remains unchanged, in her new role she will be setting up her own multi media content company and policy group," NDTV chairman Prannoy Roy wrote in a company-wide email this afternoon.
HuffPost India has reached out to NDTV for a comment Sunday night. A spokesperson requested time till Monday afternoon before the company could come back with a comment as its senior executives were travelling. On Sunday afternoon, Roy sent out the email to staffers. Dutt declined comment.
Dutt is an award-winning journalist who has been the face of NDTV as it went from a content producer for Doordarshan to a vast media company. She has reported from conflict zones and is well known for her news shows. Her name was embroiled in the Niira Radia tapes controversy, where she was heard offering to carry messages from the DMK to the Congress. Dutt defended herself at the time saying she was making a promise she never intended to keep, and indeed did not speak with anyone in the Congress. NDTV also stood by her, holding a special show where she was allowed to take questions from Manu Joseph, the editor of Open magazine, which had published transcripts of the case.
Two people familiar with the developments said the high-profile journalist's move to a consulting role has been in the works for a while and first came to the fore when she had spoken with CNN-IBN--a rival news channel--for a similar role that would allow her to pursue other interests while continuing her work on television. In July, that channel's editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai had quit, setting off a churn in leadership roles there.
Sardesai's departure came after CNN-IBN's parent company, Network18, was taken over by entities controlled by Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani. These entities had funded Network18 promoter Raghav Bahl in a way that allowed the funders to convert debt into ownership when they pleased.
In January, news portal Newslaundry reported that NDTV promoter Prannoy Roy has also been funded by entities connected to Reliance Industries.
Roy has not commented about the indebtedness of his companies to RIL. An RIL spokesperson told Newslaundry at the time that the company had no direct or indirect interest in NDTV.
The full text of Roy's email to staffers:
From: Prannoy Roy
To: Everyone in NDTV Group
Subject: The very best
Barkha Dutt was only 23 when she joined NDTV as a young reporter cum producer. NDTV was the first place she ever worked in and for two decades we have seen her evolve into one of our most prolific reporters. She has been a key member of the NDTV family and a big part of our memorable journey from a production house that created a nightly news bulletin for doordarshan to what we are today. She has worn many hats for NDTV: journalist, anchor, editor and NDTV has been both her learning ground and her second home.
Now twenty years later we wish her all the very best as she embarks on yet another role with us. Barkha will be moving to the role of Consulting Editor. She will remain as closely associated with NDTV as she has all these years as the anchor for Buck Stops Here on weeknights and We The People on weekends. She will also be available as always for analysis and inputs on big news events and stories. While her TV relationship with NDTV remains unchanged, in her new role she will be setting up her own multi media content company and policy group. We have literally seen barkha grow from a child to an adult professional and look forward to our close bonds only strengthening further as she embarks on this new venture.
I know you will join us in wishing Barkha the very very best.
Radhika and Prannoy