Chief executive officer of the state-owned media company Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG), Ken Ali, one of the main architects behind the privately funded pro-Opposition weekly newspaper, The Voice, has been sacked from his job.
A letter, signed by company chairman and former Independent Senator Helen Drayton, terminated his contract with immediate effect yesterday, hours before Finance Minister Colm Imbert began delivery of the 2015-2016 budget in the House of Representatives.
The move came a day after Communication Minister Maxie Cuffie told regional journalists at the Association of Caribbean Media Workers' eighth biennial general assembly that $90 million had been spent by CNMG and other state-run media entities over the last year.
Informed sources said yesterday an audit into the company is likely to be launched to examine how that money was spent. One of the projects under review will be Project Icon, which had a budget of $50 million.
At his appointment a month ago, Cuffie said the time had come to revisit the Government's role in managing media houses and said his mission was to find a way to insulate the media organisations from political control.
Last month, two other executives of the state-owned Government Information Services Ltd (GISL), chairman Tony Deyal and CEO Andy Johnson were also axed.
Deyal had been the creator of the "Voices" project and "Your Government Working for You" ads, which had been criticised by the then Opposition People's National Movement.
Another casualty yesterday was freelance radio talk show host Marcia Braveboy, who had a programme on Talk City 91.1 FM. She too was served with a letter terminating her contract with immediate effect. Her last six-month contract was signed on July 10.
In response, Braveboy, who earned $10,000 a month, took to Facebook to express her displeasure.
Ali, a veteran newspaper journalist joined CNMG in 2010 and his latest two-year contract was signed on August 1, 2014. He earned $40,000 a month with use of a fully maintained company vehicle and cellular phone. He was also entitled to a $3,000 entertainment allowance.
The T&T Guardian understands his contract was terminated under a clause which referred to his unsatisfactory performance against his agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
In the coming days other staff are expected to be fired, including an executive producer in the news and current affairs department who featured prominently during the live broadcasts of the PP's election campaign and another high-profile talk show host, sources said.