DD News: Editor's departure casts shadow over 'new look' claims

Revamped to cater to an audience that demanded news on-the-go and not just news the government deemed fit for broadcast--is the new look Doordarshan News already unraveling just months after the makeover?

In a bid to compete, Doordarshan News hired a number of journalists from other channels to spruce up their coverage of issues and debates and had come up with shows like News Night, a show to compete with the 9 pm debates on other news channels but less raucously.

However, the face of News Night, former NDTV anchor and columnist Ajai Shukla, has reportedly already thrown in the towel, refusing to divulge the reasons for doing so.

Tweeting about his resignation on 29 March Shukla said:

While Shukla has chosen to remain mum on his reasons for walking out, the reason is being cited as the resurgence of the old guard of bureaucrats and journalists at the state-owned news channel, who weren't too happy about the autonomy given to the new set of journalists hired.

Has the government's news channel changed as much as claimed. Screen grab of DD News

Has the government's news channel changed as much as claimed. Screen grab of DD News

The tipping point was reportedly the appearance of BJP leader Tarun Vijay on one of the debates, during which he roundly criticised the government, prompting the issuing of two circulars that said no panel members for debates could be called without the permission of the Director General (News), reported the Indian Express.

Another ciricular said that any guests being called for a discussion needed to finalised and circulated to all within the organisation for 'maximising synergy within DD News and for ensuring smooth functioning', the report stated

The CEO of Prasar Bharati has defended the move saying that every organisation has a hierarchy and the circulars were in keeping with the structure of DD News.

"Every organisation has a structure, a hierarchy to follow. DG DD is accountable to Parliament on whatever goes in the channel, the buck stops with him, so I don't think there was anything wrong in keeping him in the loop," Jawhar Sircar was quoted as saying.

Whether this will mean a return to the old days of Doordarshan news or is a temporary blip in a hierarchy unused to dramatic changes only time will tell. But for a news channel that seemed to be reviving itself from its government-induced stupor, its most recent departure isn't one that augurs well.

Updated Date: Apr 02, 2013 14:53 PM