HYDERABAD: The ongoing ownership controversy brewing at news channel TV9 approached its season finale on Friday with the new owners — Alanda Media & Entertainment — removing its CEO V Ravi Prakash and CFO KVN Murthy with immediate effect. Both Prakash and Murthy were whole-time directors — a position that now stands revoked.
The unceremonious exit comes just a day after the Cyberabad police registered two cases against Prakash and others on charges of forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy. Alanda Media & Entertainment Pvt Ltd, incorporated in June 2018, acquired 90.54 per cent stake in Associated Broadcasting Pvt Ltd (ABCPL) — the holding company of TV9 — last August at an enterprise value of Rs 500 crore. It took over management control, inducted four board members, besides roping in Mahendra Mishra as interim CEO and Singa Rao as chief operating officer. The board ratified these decisions at its EGM here on Friday.
All was well between Prakash and Alanda until recently. Evidence came from the fact that Prakash managed to raise `75 crore from the new investors for TV9’s Delhi operations. The relationship, however, soured when the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) approved new board appointments in March. Around this time, the NCLT proceedings on a petition moved against TV9’s former investor Srini Raju by Saif Partners too reached final stages. Subsequently, in April, when the new board proposed to meet, Prakash remained reluctant and tried preventing them from taking over.
‘Dug his own grave’
A fortnight ago, when an industry veteran tried to broker peace, Prakash didn’t budge and instead moved the NCLT adding a fresh twist that he signed a pact with actor Shivaji to sell his stake.“None were aware of such a deal until March. It’s evident that such tactics were to stall the new management from taking control. He dug his own grave and now runs the risk of facing criminal conspiracy charges,” he explained.
Acrimony between Prakash and Alanda Media soared to such a state that the latter solicited city police’s presence for Friday’s media briefing, where board members walked in with bodyguards in tow.
For Prakash, his 16-year stint in the channel he incorporated along with serial entrepreneur Srini Raju in 2003 came to a dramatic end. Hours after his removal, he sent his resignation that was replete with accusations and allegations against Alanda. But TV9’s new owners made no bones about it and insisted that Prakash with his nine per cent stake was a mere shareholder. Sources also hinted that the management may look into financial irregularities, if any, which could complicate Prakash’s woes.
Prior to the takeover, ABCPL’s board had three directors including Prakash, Murthy and Clifford Pereira. With four new directors namely Jagapthi Rao, Sambasiva Rao, Srinivasa Rao Aravapalli and Pulluri Kaushik Rao joining and as Prakash and Murthy’s directorship was revoked, the board strength is now down to five. Pereira will likely to continue with TV9.
Police to serve second notices on Ravi Prakash, actor Shivaji
The Cyberabad Cyber crime police are likely to serve second notices on former TV9 CEO Ravi Prakash and Tollywood actor S Shivaji after they failed to appear before the police for questioning in connection with the forgery cases. TV9 former director MKVN Murthy, however, appeared before the investigators regarding the forgery case. During the probe, the investigators have grilled Murthy about financial transactions, business activities and other issues. He was also grilled about several documents which had some suspicious signatures. It is also reported that Murthy allegedly told police no irregularities had taken place