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  India   All India  27 Feb 2018  Smriti Irani: Is content of DD and AIR worth Rs 2,500 cr?

Smriti Irani: Is content of DD and AIR worth Rs 2,500 cr?

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 27, 2018, 1:12 am IST
Updated : Feb 27, 2018, 6:51 am IST

The Board also deferred a proposal by the I&B ministry to appoint a serving IAS officer as member (personnel) of Prasar Bharati.

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani (Photo: PTI)
 Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The on-going tiff between Prasar Bharati and the information and broadcasting ministry intensified on Monday with minister Smriti Irani publicly questioning the quality of content that India’s public service broadcaster doles out despite getting Rs 2,500 crore from “honest taxpayers” every year.

“Every year, the honest taxpayers pay close to Rs 2,500 crore to keep the Prasar Bharati in the broadcasting arena alive and thriving. But how much do we give back to the taxpayers by enriching content through our various mediums? That is an issue, I am sure, the CEO of the Prasar Bharati will look at,” Ms Irani said while addressing a broadcasting sector conference.

 

Shashi Shekhar Vempati, Prasar Bharati CEO, was sharing the dais with Ms Irani.

“The tragedy is that private broadcasters grew at the cost of Prasar Bharati. Good business will only make sense when there is good content. There is increased advertisement spend because of the sheer power of reach of Prasar Bharati,” she said.

Prasar Bharati, an autonomous body, runs Doordarshan and All India Radio. Though it gets budgetary support from the government, it is independent and free to take decisions with regard to content and appointments.

Ms Irani’s comments on Prasar Bharati came days after her ministry and the Board of the public broadcaster locked horns over appointments to the Board and hirings.  

 

Earlier this month, Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash and members of the Board rejected or deferred a range of “directives” from the I&B ministry, saying they constituted “contempt” of the Prasar Bharati Act.

One directive was regarding terminating the services of all contractual employees, another one was a proposal to hire two senior journalists on exorbitant compensation packages as editor-in-chief for DD News and as Prasar Bharati News Service.

The Board also deferred a proposal by the I&B ministry to appoint a serving IAS officer as member (personnel) of Prasar Bharati.

The Prasar Bharati Act 1990 doesn’t allow a serving bureaucrat to be appointed permanently in core management positions which are CEO, Member (finance) and Member (personnel) and are full-time positions.  

 

Speaking at the event, Ms Irani also took on public broadcaster on the issue of not bringing convergence between terrestrial broadcasting and digital broadcasting. “There is a capacity for convergence between terrestrial and traditional broadcasting and digital broadcasting. And while we talk about 5G and pathways in the future, how do we address the present and fill the gap of the past is a huge question that members of Prasar Bharati have to answer,” she said.

Tags: prasar bharati, smriti irani, all india radio
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi