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Journalist Body Urges Political Parties To Manifest Gestures

Journalist Body Urges Political Parties To Manifest Their Gestures

By NJ Thakuria

Guwahati: As India prepares for the next general election,
Journalists' Forum Assam (JFA) has urged all political parties to show
their sincerity towards the implementation of various welfare schemes
to media persons engaged in both print & electronic media.

The Assam based scribes' body also insisted on enrolling a special
protection laws for journalists on duty in the election manifestos of
all political parties. Expressing grave concern over helpless working
condition of media persons, particularly the private television
journalists of northeast India, the JFA has urged both the Indian
Union labour ministry and province governments of the alienated region
to look into the matter.

The forum argued that nearly 80% working journalists of the region are
still performing their duties with pitiable salaries (read monthly
financial package), unlimited working hours and without any facilities
recommended by the country's labour laws.

The JFA in a statement issued by its president Rupam Barua pointed out
that the reporters and camera persons, engaged with the satellite news
channels of northeast India, have to work in a vulnerable atmosphere
with low wages, more than 8 hours working period in a day, without
weekly off-day, no leaves in need and with no facility for life &
health insurance coverage.

Assam hosts all the seven privately owned satellite news channels of
the region which beam news & other programs in various languages like
Assamese, English, Hindi, Bengali and various regional languages to
virtually cater the need of over 60 million populace of northeast
India, bordering Bhutan, Nepal, Tibet (China), Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The region has more than 100 morning dailies in different languages.

Whenever the demand for higher financial packages for the
privately-owned television channel employees is put forward, the
owners argue that they are running a loss-making business. Similar
versions are also being aired by the newspaper owners time to time
that they are not earning money from the media business.

The views of the owners of media outlets in the region have been
contradicted by Assam Media Employees Federation (AAMEF) alleging that
most of the news channels & newspapers managements prepare their
loss-making balance sheets after hiding huge amount of money at the
sources. "Except few, it's a common practice for all the media barons
to divert funds from the collected amount of money from the
advertisers to other non-media enterprises owned by them.

Thus the owners continue siphoning away the essential resource of the
media groups for their selfish interest only to showcase the media
business as an unprofitable endeavour," asserted Hiten Mahanta,
president of AAMEF. Welcoming the recent Supreme Court (of India)
verdict upholding the constitutionality of the Majithia Wage Board for
journalists & non-journalists, the AAMEF advocated for full
implementation of the recommendations of the statutory wage board in
every print media house in northeast India.

Extending gratitude to The Assam Tribune group of newspapers in
Guwahati for being the first in India to implement the Majithia wage
board recommendations, the AAMEF also appealed the Tarun Gogoi led
Assam government to take steps to get the wage board recommendations
implemented by all newspaper houses in the State. Meanwhile, the JFA
raises demands for a social media audit in the region where the
readers/viewers can find a transparent picture of the financial
dealings involved with their favourite news papers and news channels.

The media audit should address many vital issues relating to the media
market in the country. It would also help the journalists and
non-journalist employees to get their due benefits supported by the
law, the statement asserted.

ENDS

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