London-based TV station Arise News has been removed from the air with journalists and media staff reportedly owing £1m. Editor-in-chief Nduka Obaigbena, informed staff he was assisting the inquiry being conducted by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Staff Unpaid Since August as Winding Up Petition Looms
A skeleton team of journalists did not succeed in their attempts to restore programmes after the plug was pulled last week, first by a London satellite communications company over unpaid bills, and fatally this week by Sky. The decision was made last week to try to keep Arise News on air by recruiting a team of less than 20, many of them freelancers, to produce limited programming further riled loyal staff. The selected staff had been paid £250 per day while the majority of their colleagues remained unpaid since August last year, despite claims by Obaigbena that staff will be paid by last weekend.
One Arise journalist, speaking anonymously in fear of losing thousands owed, reportedly said:
“There’s much disillusion, bitterness and anger now between freelance journalists who had been selected in the skeleton team and the majority of long-term staff who were excluded and who have still not received any money at all. There have been many tears in the newsroom with journalists’ families facing severe financial hardship and unable to pay mortgages, school fees and household bills. We feel bullied and threatened that if we quit or take legal action we’ll get nothing. We stayed on in the forlorn hope our money will perhaps come through, but our debts are continuing to pile up.”
British television companies have been supplying workers for various roles since the launch of Arise on 4 February 2013. They are each reportedly owed in excess of £500,000. To add to their woes Reuters, the principal provider of daily global newsfeeds, is seeking a winding up petition in the High Court due to £620,000 in unpaid accounts.
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