The audio-visual media and entertainment industry is experiencing severe disruption worldwide. Despite this, Barkha Dutt — once India’s answer to Oprah Winfrey — persuaded former Union HRD minister Kapil Sibal, the country’s most successful Supreme Court counsel who reportedly files an annual income tax return of Rs.50 crore-plus earned from the country’s dysfunctional legal system, to bankroll yet another English news channel headed by her. On January 26, a new Tiranga (tricolour) 24×7 television news channel with a reported investment of Rs. 100 crore was launched to serve as a propaganda medium for the Congress party. But with the Congress suffering an even worse defeat in the May 2019 general election and Tiranga making little headway, it was peremptorily closed down in July.
Since then, a war of words on Twitter and other social media channels has broken out between Dutt and Sibal and his reportedly hard-as-nails wife Promila. According to Dutt, Sibal had assured her that the news channel would be kept alive for two years, long enough to make, an impact, and that every employee would be given six months notice and severance pay. But notwithstanding that Sibal is an officer of the apex court — and as such perhaps well-aware of the law’s agonising delay from which he has profited mightily — he had no compunction about breaking his promises and commitments.
Meanwhile, Dutt, once the undisputed news and chat show queen of Indian television, has been cast into the outer darkness of the harsh media world, with few so poor to do her reverence.