News Publications

Unpaid Salaries Row: ThisDay publisher, Obaigbena, orders dismissal of 13 journalists

The management of THISDAY Newspapers on Wednesday took a decision to dismiss 13 employees who issued a strike notice to the publication on Tuesday, PREMIUM TIMES can report.

A top management staff within the company told PREMIUM TIMES that Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Leaders & Company Limited, which runs THISDAY Newspaper titles and Arise TV Network, wrote in an internal memo that the 13 journalists attached to its bureau in Abuja should be paid due salaries, but should be compelled to pay all outstanding debts they owed the company before their contracts are terminated.

“Please work out what each of them is owed including pensions, net off all debt to the company and terminate all the appointments with immediate effect,” the source quoted Mr. Obaigbena as saying in an internal memo addressed to the company’s acting head of human resources, Emmanuel Efeni. “This company has policies and will not be run in the village square.”

The sacked workers had in the Tuesday correspondence appealed to the paper’s management to clear backlog of salaries, a situation they said had left them unable to “meet our obligations both to our families and other responsibilities.”

Citing, amongst other concerns, “an abysmal disregard” of their contribution by the company’s management, the distressed workers warned the company of their resolve to embark on a week strike if their demands fell through.

“Should the management fail to pay us by Friday, June 10, 2016, we will have no option than to embark on a one-week warning strike from Sunday June 12, 2016 until June 19, 2016,” they wrote. “Please, note that an indefinite strike will ensue at the expiration of the warning strike.”

In the notice, which was collectively-signed by Tobi Soniyi, Olawale Ajimotokan, Patrick Ugeh, Senator Iroegbu, James Emejo, Omololu Ogunmade, Paul Obi, Ndubusi Francis, Dele Ogbodo, Damilola Oyedele, Chineme Okafor, Godwin Omoigui and Onyebuchi Ezigbo, the workers said, “For several years, we have sacrificed everything – emotionally, physically and materially – to ensure the continued survival of THISDAY.”

But in his memo, our sources said, Mr. Obaigbena said the reporters “canvassed” for adverts for the newspaper which were not paid for, saying the nonpayment had contributed to the more than N1 billion the paper is being owed in revenues.


Nduka Obaigbena’s London TV Staff Sues Him

Nduka Obaigbena, editor-in-chief and chairman of Thisday Newspaper is in the news for the wrong reason again

The flambouyant publisher who is known to owe his staff has done it again in his London based media outfit, a television channel Arise and because of this, the TV channel suddenly vanished from the airwaves just before 5 pm on Thursday, January 14, 2016.

The message beneath logo of the station, which is broadcast on Sky channel 519 simply read: “Normal service will resume as soon as possible.” But the staff are said to know otherwise, the station has more than transmission problem.

Obaigbena is said to have employed many senior British journalists and is being pursued over a trail of debts estimated at £3m and including nearly £1m owed to the station’s own workers.

Arise now faces a High Court winding up petition brought against it by a British television company, having only settled a similar action brought by a British publisher last summer. It also owes money to global news agencies which supply its pictures, including Reuters and Associated Press.  It is also alleged to have breached its license with Ofcom, the broadcast regulator,  by failing to pay its annual license fee by the required date.

The watchdog is facing calls for Arise, which broadcasts on Sky to be stripped of its license.

Arise first went off air late last year as 62 Arise workers, supported by the NUJ and Bectu media unions, began collective legal action for £825,000 unpaid wages but a skeleton team returned to work on 11 January after receiving cash advances of around £250 a day.

The staffs are now lamenting their plight, David Lee, who resigned as a production editor and claims he is owed £20,000, said: “It’s disgusting, now I’m faced with a tax bill that I can’t pay. Two staff in the New York office has lost their houses because they were unable to make their monthly mortgage repayments.”

Obaigbena has explained why he is indebted to is staffs hinging his financial problems on “the collapse of oil prices” and the subsequent restrictions in Nigeria on foreign exchange. He also alleged a scam on the part of the staffs when he said that almost all Arise workers were freelance and claimed to have uncovered a wages scam.  He noted further: “We are in dispute…with some who made invalid claims which we discovered during a routine audit,” he told The Independent. “The courts may have to determine this. Some saw Arise as a gravy train to take advantage of. They are wrong.”

Despite all these, Obaigbena said his TV station is still in the soft launch phase of five-year launch plan and thus is in its teething stage. He said: “As a new business still in investment stage the revenue generation stage takes time and stability. We are in a marathon and not a sprint.”

Last year, Nduka Obaigbena’s Thisday Newspaper was picket by the NUJ over several months of unpaid salaries owed his staffs.

Meanwhile, Obaigbena’s name was mentioned in the ongoing investigation of the $2.1billion arms deal. He was alleged to have collected N650 million from Col. Sambo Dasuki.

International News News

ARISE News Gets Emmy Nomination

Raheem Akingbolu

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has announced the nominations for the 58th Annual New York Emmy Awards, which will hold in New York City on Saturday, May 2, 2015.

The documentary “Game Changers: How the Harlem Globetrotters Battled Racism” – produced by ARISE News – got nominated in the Nostalgia Programme category.

“ARISE News is a different kind of 24/7 news and entertainment channel,” said co-executive producer and chairman of ARISE News, Nduka Obaigbena. “We provide coverage and perspective on global events seldom given airtime.”

Former LA Lakers owner Don Sterling’s explosive comments exposed the undertone of racism that still exists in professional basketball.  No players are more aware of this pernicious bias than those who played for the Harlem Globetrotters in the 1940s and 1950s.

Long after Jackie Robinson hit his first ball as a Dodger, the NBA was still a “whites only” league. This Arise News Special took a historical look at the early days of professional basketball and how the Harlem Globetrotters not only dealt with racism, but helped change the world of sports.

ARISE News Co-Executive Producer, Alan J. Weiss added: “The story of the Harlem Globetrotters mirrors the civil rights struggle in America.  It’s important that these often overlooked heroes – lionized around the world, but treated as second class citizens at home – receive the recognition they deserve.”

Hosted by ARISE News anchor Julian Phillips, the documentary included interviews with former Globetrotters: Wilt Chamberlain, Meadowlark Lemon, Marques Haynes, William “Pop” Gates, Gene Hudgins, Andy Johnson, Charlie Hoxie and Carl Green.

Members of the Arise Team who contributed are: Executive Producers:  Nduka Obaigbena and Alan J. Weiss; Host:  Julian Phillips; Writer:  Deborah Gobble; Producer:  Marilou Yacoub; Graphics and Animation: Pierre Vilmenay; Studio Director:  Larry Michaels; and Studio Director:  Jack Niesi.

This is the first nomination for ARISE News since its soft launch in 2013. ARISE News will be formally launched this year.

ARISE News, a THISDAY sister news and entertainment channel, was launched on the Multichoice platforms of DSTV Channel 416 and GOTv Channel 44 on January 27, 2015.

The New York Emmy Awards are a division of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences honouring those in television and advanced media in the tri-state New York-New Jersey-Connecticut and New York State.


News Television

Arise News joins Freeview

Arise News has launched on the Freeview DTT platform, taking capacity on Arqiva’s recently launched MPEG-4 multiplex.

The international news channel established by the Nigerian publisher Nduka Obaigbena should reach around 72% of the UK population.

“Today, we reach yet another milestone as we launch on Freeview. ARISE News is committed to covering issues of the day and world events that matter from an uncommon perspective, engaging citizens of the world in an emerging new global order truly representing the experiences of the under-served communities often ignored by conventional media,” said Obaigbena.

“We are delighted to welcome ARISE News to the Freeview platform. Most Freeview HD homes will be able to enjoy the rich cultural and educational content available on the channel. We at Arqiva are committed to broadcasting a variety of content to offer viewers great channel and programme choices,” added Mike Finchen, director, Digital Terrestrial Television, Arqiva.

Arise News joins other news channels, BBC News, BBC News HD, Sky News, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera English HD, Al Jazeera Arabic and RT on Freeview.


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