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Prasar Bharati CEO rues lack of autonomy

NEW DELHI, May 2, 2014, DHNS:
Narendra Modi. PTI file photo

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar said on Friday that the controversy over Narendra Modi interview on Doordarshan could have been avoided had the government cut off the “long traditional linkage” between the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the News Division of the public broadcaster.

“The mechanisms of appointment, transfers, career assessments and even punitive actions against senior officials of the News Division are bound to cast a shadow, in some form,” he stated in a letter to members of the Prasar Bharati Board after the controversial interview of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate was aired on Doordarshan on April 27.

Sircar pointed out that Prasar Bharati Board took “several” resolutions in the last two years, seeking more operational autonomy from the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry, but it failed to do so.

“In a way, therefore, MIB lost an opportunity to convince a young minister (Manish Tewari) to break this long traditional linkage between the ministry and the News Division, which has continued unabated even after PB was born and assigned its distinct role in 1997,” the chief executive officer of the Prasar Bharati said in his letter.

He also underlined that Prasar Bharati’s initiatives to bring in “external professionals” met with some degree of success. But where the posts of Director Generals of Doordarshan and All India Radio were concerned, it did not succeed.

The recruitment rules still ensure that only government and quasi-government persons could occupy the post, which is pegged at approximately Rs 22 lakh per annum against “sharply” higher market rates, he noted. 

“I have tried my best to explain that these need to be reviewed, because times are changing; but I have not succeeded,” Sircar said.


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