Stop appointing officers: Prasar Bharti CEO to govt

Sircar seeks career details of those working in DD, AIR

Stop appointing officers: Prasar Bharti CEO to govt

Days after a reshuffle in the top echelons of state-run media, Prasar Bharati (PB) chief Jawahar Sircar has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to leave the job of appointing officers of Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) to the board of the public broadcaster.

“I would request the ministry to bifurcate the work on a pro-rata basis. Then, posting of Indian Information Service  (IIS) officers to PB could be decided by its Board and orders issued, only after informing the Ministry. I hope you will consider this proposal favourably as we do not want to land up in issues, such as the deliberately-edited interview of Narendra Modi on April 27, which created a controversy,” he said in a recent letter to I&B Secretary Bimal Julka.

The chief executive officer (CEO) of Prasar Bharati also asked the ministry to share with it career details of the officers appointed at DD and AIR.

“Since we are completely in the dark about career details of the officers, which are readily available in the ministry’s files, it would be appropriate to share these with Prasar Bharati,” he said. 

This, Sircar said, would enable Prasar Bharati to monitor the news division of DD and AIR, which has the maximum reach, far in excess of private news channels and radio stations.

Sircar’s letter comes after the ministry recently appointed Vijaya Laxmi Chhabra acting director general of Doordarshan, even as the Prasar Bharati had recommended the name of ADG (Finance), DD, Ranjan Thakur, for the top job. Chabra was earlier ADG (programmes) in AIR.

Prasar Bharti had suggested that Thakur, whose seven years of central deputation was to expire on August 19, should be retained for one more year as he was an “outstanding” officers among others of his rank and his service was required for successful implementation of some key projects.

The ministry recently appointed Archana Dutta DG AIR (news), putting Additional Director General, Doordarshan, S M Khan, on compulsory wait. 

“On the date, when government assumed charge, we got a long explanatory note from additional secretary, mentioning inter-alia that the ministry always considers recommendations of PB. This has not been evident at all. 

“I have made several suggestions for posting and transfer of IIS officers in the News Division of Akashvani and Doordarshan,” Sircar said.

Referring to the controversy that sparked after airing of an edited interview of Modi in April, Sircar said that in such situations, the Prasar Bharati can be held responsible only if it monitors the News Division. 

“The IIS officers concerned can also accept the fact that they have to work in tandem with Prasar Bharati. I am afraid, as things stand now we would stand accused of dichotomic position that the PB Act 1990 insists,” he said.

The monitoring mechanism need to be rationalised at Prasar Bharati as 300-plus IIS officers, posted at the public broadcaster, required “specialisation, professionalisation and hard skills” to compete against the “big” private news media, he added.

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