Doordarshan autonomy: Is Modi govt meting out the UPA treatment to Prasar Bharati?
And now NDTV reports that Doordarshan's woes are not over.
In April this year, a few weeks before the results of the general elections were out, Doordarshan telecast an interview with Narendra Modi. Soon after, BJP created a huge uproar over the editing of the interview. The party alleged that Doordarshan had snipped and hacked through the interview due to pressure from the Congress-led government at the Centre. A very angry Venkaiah Naidu rechristened the organisation 'Prachar Bharati' instead of 'Prasar Bharati'.
It didn't help the Congress' case that Prasar Bharti CEO Jawhar Sircar, immediately after the incident, wrote to the Information and Broadcasting ministry complaining about the "shadow of government" on the organisation. He added that though he had written to then Information and Broadcast minister Manish Tewari seeking more autonomy, his pleas had fallen on deaf ears.
And now NDTV reports that Doordarshan's woes are not over. The channel has reportedly accessed a bunch of letters written by Sircar, the last of which had been written on 8 August this year, seeking increased autonomy for the organisation.
NDTV reports, "In a series of letters, Mr Sircar highlights, as an example of government interference, the fact that top executives at Prasar Bharati are not consulted about transferring key officers."
Interestingly after, assuming power, the Modi-led NDA government announced that Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio, will be revamped to match private news agencies abroad.
The new Information and Broadcasting minister, Prakash Javadekar had hinted at allowing more editorial freedom and 'internal control over manpower' to the organisation. He had told the media, "I am considering appointing a professional editor-in-chief to head Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) and the individual will have full freedom to cover the news as he or she thinks fit."
He had added, "Doordarshan and AIR would be free to interview any political leader they want, ask whatever questions they deem fit and handle the content of the interview in whatever professional way they want."
These announcements were made in June, shortly after the new government was formed.
However, given that Sircar's last later was written last week, one is forced to reconsider the Modi government's real agenda on the Prasar Bharati issue. It is perhaps important here to mention that it has been reported that the Doordarshan will be indulging into many firsts during the Independence Day broadcast. The Indian Express reported that before beginning to telecast the Prime Minister's speech, the channel will show profiles of former PMs, which is somewhat of a tradition. However, it will also telecast an exclusive three-minute profile on Narendra Modi, a first in its history.
You can't blame the Doordarshan if they are feeling a sense of deja vu at this moment!
The government also said Prasar Bharati had launched a plan to digitalise its entire network.
Prasar Bharati has again sought an assurance from the I&B Ministry that its recommendations would not be ignored if an inquiry is held into the editing of DD's Modi interview.