'Prasar Bharti trying to shut AIR, govt-funded TV'

Prasar Bharti making efforts to shut All India Radio, govt-funded TV channels: CPI MP to I&B minister

The MP said the first such action was taken by the Prasar Bharati in 2017 when 769 TV stations were closed down

Representative image. Credit: iStock.

CPI Parliamentary Party leader Binoy Vishwam on Monday shot off a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, accusing the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati of making "concerted efforts" to shut government-financed radio and TV channels.

The CPI MP said the first such action was taken by the Prasar Bharati in 2017 when 769 TV stations were closed down, and now radio stations are being similarly targeted.

"The All India Radio currently has 8 stations and 10 services in Kerala that provide a varied array of programmes from news to entertainment to the people, both in India and abroad. However, the Government now claims that it is no longer economical to run these operations. It is of the opinion that these means are substitutable by the information dispensation through internet websites," he said in the letter.

It is "misinformed opinion" that everyone can access internet services efficiently at any time of the day, he said adding that access varies with respect to financial, social and geographical context.

This will leave a large number of of people deprived of information and knowledge on regional affairs and cultures. The AIR services in Kerala are the most recent to be effected, he said demanding Javadekar's immediate intervention to reverse the Prasar Bharati's move.

He said a meeting of Prasar Bharati held on November 18 decided that programmes originating from Kerala will be "drastically curtailed" to limit only two or three state level channels, with the rest merely being reduced to depend on these few programs in a contributory role.

"It is a globally accepted principle that the role of radio stations is to function as the voice of the people of the area, covering the entire social spectrum and work as a catalyst for social development through its informational, educational and entertainment programmes. But this new move by Prasar Bharati is against this principle and its very motto of public service broadcasting," he said.

"This will lead to a complete denial of opportunities for common people as well as artists of all sorts of the area to participate in various programmes and it may ultimately result in the closure of these stations," he added.

Vishwam demanded that action should be initiated to protect and strengthen the identity of the AIR stations as the voice of the respective zones by providing adequate infrastructure and staff and replacing obsolete technology with new one.