Prasar Bharati Writes to Information and Broadcasting Ministry
The public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has again written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, seeking its assurance that its recommendations would not be ignored if an inquiry was held into the controversial editing of Doordarshan’s Narendra Modi interview.
Prasar Bharati’s principal advisor V A M Hussain wrote to I&B Secretary Bimal Julka, citing several instances where Prasar Bharati’s requests were turned down or kept pending by the government. Prasar Bharati had offered to conduct an inquiry into the controversial editing of the Modi interview only on the ground that the I&B Ministry agreed with the recommendations that are likely to be made.
Prasar Bharati contended that key officials in the news wing were appointed by the Ministry and that it had no control over them. This hampered in professional conduct of the news channels.
“The fundamental question is that until the Ministry satisfies the Board of Prasar Bharati that in this case the MIB would not ignore PB’s recommendation, PB would not be in a position to simply ‘mark time’ and be dishonoured by calling for a public enquiry into a controversial matter, and then be held responsible for its inability to take action in terms of this enquiry,” Hussain said in the letter.
The public broadcaster too appears to be weighing its options. Though mandated to be an independent body, its relationship with the government has been a chequered one, with the ruling party dictating terms.
This is the second time Prasar Bharati has written a letter to the Ministry suggesting an inquiry. However, the I&B Ministry had then suggested that Prasar Bharati should seek the views of its board on whether an inquiry was needed.
In what appears to be an escalation of the tiff between Prasar Bharati and the Ministry, Hussain’s letter listed a number of instances where the broadcaster’s views were not even considered.
The letter added that the Ministry refused to permit the DG (News) to accept the deputation visit to the Asian Pacific Broadcasting Union; while an officer was posted in a particular station for 23 years, the Ministry refused to transfer him despite a request from the broadcaster. In another instance, the issue of the transfer of another officer in the same station for 14 years was also rebuffed.