AAP, Shiv Sena object to Justin Trudeau’s comments on farmers’ protest


The AAP believes any interference or commentary from elected heads of other countries on India’s internal matters is unsolicited and unwelcome, party spokesperson Raghav Chadha said on Tuesday, reacting to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the ongoing farmers protests in India.

Mr. Chadha urged the Centre to immediately resolve and accede to farmers’ demands which remains an internal matter of India. “While we urge BJP government to immediately resolve and accede to farmers’ demands, this remains an internal matter of India. AAP believes interference or commentary from elected heads of other countries are unsolicited and unwelcome. India is capable of handling its own domestic matters,” Mr. Chadha tweeted.

Also read | Canadian leadership’s comments on farmers protest “ill-informed”: MEA Spokesperson

Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also asked that Mr. Trudeau not “play politics using India’s internal issue as fodder“. “Dear @JustinTrudeau, touched by your concern but Indias internal issue is not fodder for another nations politics. Pls respect the courtesies that we always extend to other nations. Request PM @narendramodi ji to resolve this impasse before other countries find it okay to opine,” tweeted Ms. Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha member.

Mr. Trudeau is the first international leader to comment on the burgeoning protests against the controversial farm laws.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming from India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning and we’re all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest,” Mr. Trudeau said.

“We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why, we’ve reached out to multiple means, directly to the India authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together,” the Canadian leader said.

The protest entered its sixth day on Tuesday as thousands of people from several states, including Punjab and Haryana, continued to hold peaceful sit-in demonstrations at the outskirts of Delhi.

Their “Dilli Chalo” march was met with water cannons, tear gas, and police barricades by the Haryana Police on the Delhi-Haryana border. They were eventually allowed to pass through.

They are demanding that they be allowed to stage protests in the city against the new laws. Enacted in September, the laws are anticipated to bring “reforms” in the agriculture sector by removing the middlemen and allowing farmers to sell anywhere in the country. The farmers worry this will eliminate the safety cushion of a Minimum Support Price and scrap away mandis that ensure earning.

The Centre is expected to hold talks with farmers on Tuesday to find a solution.



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AAP newswire lost $10 million before rescue deal


Australia’s oldest newswire company lost $10 million in the year before it was sold in an eleventh hour rescue deal, according to documents filed with the corporate regulator.

The annual financial report from Mediality (previously known as Australian Associated Press) reveal the parlous financial position it was in before major shareholders Nine Entertainment Co and News Corp Australia moved to close it down.

When AAP staff were informed in March about the closure of the newswire, the company was already on track to make a large financial loss.Credit:Phil Carrick

AAP’s core newswire service lost $5.4 million alone, with further losses from press release distribution service Medianet and editing unit Pagemasters, bringing the total loss to $10 million for the financial year. The loss was compared to a profit of $929,000 the year prior, which occurred after a major restructure. In 2018, the company posted a $10.5 million loss.

AAP was saved from closure by a group of philanthropists led by former Foxtel and News Corp boss Peter Tonagh after its previous shareholders Nine (owner of this masthead) and News Corp decided they would no longer subsidise the business. The group paid $1 for the newswire, which led to a $899,000 write-down in value in its financial results. Mediality was approached for comment.



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Ruckus in SDMC House: AAP leader tries to tear off his shirt in protest


In a bizarre incident, AAP councillor and Leader of Opposition Prem Chouhan allegedly attempted to tear off his shirt to “register protest” during the proceedings of the BJP-led SDMC House which witnessed a huge uproar on Friday.

While Chouhan claimed it was a “symbolic protest” to show the alleged “poor condition” of the areas falling under the civic body, South Delhi Mayor Anamika condemned the incident as “indecent behaviour” and said this has “lowered the dignity” of the House.

In a statement issued later, the mayor said Chouhan “tried to tear off his cloth” after stepping into the Well of the House and that this inicident is an insult to women members and herself.

“We condemn the incident by the AAP and its leader of opposition, and a complaint has been lodged with the disciplinary committee, and appropriate actions will be taken against the AAP councillors who indulged in the incident, so that in future, no one repeats such a behaviour,” the mayor was quoted as saying in the statement.

Chouhan, when contacted, claimed, “I have done nothing wrong” and “won’t apologise”.

“Three of our newly nominated AAP MLAs had come to the House and they wanted to put forth their views, but they were not allowed to speak. We protested and demanded that they be allowed to express their views,” he said.

Chouhan alleged that some of the mediapersons were “told not to air visuals” of the incident.

Soon, the arguments in the House turned into heated exchanges between members of the treasury and opposition benches.

Photographs circulated on social media purportedly showing an AAP member standing on the bench while others crowded near the Well of the House and raised anti-BJP slogans.

Chouhan later stepped into the Well of the House and allegedly tried to tear off his shirt, but only a few buttons got undone, an SDMC official said.

The House was then adjourned after some time, the official said.

Chouhan said that as elected representatives, “we have a right to express our views and people’s problems. Only trying to depict the poor condition (‘fatehal’) of Delhi by that symbolic protest.”

The BJP controls all the three municipal corporations, and in the 104-member SDMC Hoise, AAP is the principal opposition besides Congress.



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Veteran AAP executive Emma Cowdroy to lead newly formed newswire


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“The appointment of a CEO and any other leadership [of the newswire] is for the new owners of the consortium,” Mr Davidson said.

Long-standing editor-in-chief Tony Gillies is also expected to leave the business. Mr Gillies told staff on Thursday he could not expect the newly-formed newswire to support an executive of his level.

“As I reflect on my 16 years as your editor in chief, I feel nothing but pride for all we have achieved – news coverage to the highest standard, cutting edge projects, and the people we have attracted and developed,” Mr Gillies said.

AAP’s newswire is expected to be sold for $1 as early as this week to investors and philanthropists, including Samuel Terry Asset Management managing director Fred Woollard and Australian Impact Investments managing director Kylie Charlton, who are being publicly fronted by Mr Tonagh. The consortium and the AAP board, which includes representatives Nine Entertainment Co and News Corp, agreed on commercial terms earlier this month and have been working to formalise a transaction.

The hived-off newswire will provide up to 75 editorial jobs and about 10 roles in management, IT and support and is expected to cost the consortium more that $10 million to fund. There are about 140 editorial staff that remain at the newswire, as some staff took redundancies in March after major shareholders Nine (publisher of this masthead) and News Corp first announced plans to close the wire.

A sale, should it proceed, will result in at about 60 editorial redundancies at the organisation and will not operate with more than $10 million in funding that it previously received annually from its major shareholders.

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Nine and News Corp, under Mr Davidson’s leadership, will retain the Medianet, Mediaverse, Pagemasters and Racing businesses. Pagemasters is expected to be a smaller operation once News Corp brings subediting and production in-house later this year. The remaining businesses could still be sold, but there are no imminent plans.

Mr Davidson told staff on Wednesday that any formal transfer of the newswire operations, should the sale proceed, will not occur until July 31. All staff entitlements, including those moving to the new company, are expected to be funded by Nine and News Corp.



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ACCC goes to media owners with questions on AAP sale


The ACCC is looking into the closure and potential sale of AAP, asking questions of media owners about the state of the news media landscape.

(Image: AAP/Dylan Coker)

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is polling media owners on the state of the news media as it looks into the closure and potential sale of newswire service Australian Associated Press (AAP).

In a letter sent to media owners this morning, the ACCC said it was conducting “market inquiries” into the decision to close AAP and, “in particular, the proposed closure of AAP’s Newswire business”.

A consortium is seeking to buy the newswire service, fact-checking and photography parts of AAP, and transition it into a slimmed down not-for-profit.



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