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I&B ministry to respond to Sircar's letter

Author: Manu Balachandran 
Publication: Business Standard
Date: September 30, 2013
URL: http://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/i-b-ministry-to-respond-to-sircar-s-letter-113093000855_1.html

Says can interfere in affairs as it funds organisation

The ministry of Information & Broadcasting is planning to reply to a letter written by Prasar Bharati chairman, Jawahar Sircar questioning the frequent interference by the ministry and has also said that the ministry has every right to interfere in Prasar Bharati’s operation as the ministry funds the organization.
 "We will respond to the letter very shortly. The ministry has a right to question Prasar Bharati about their operations and is answerable to the parliament. We will be giving a reply in a few days as we have to attend a parliamentary standing committee to discuss Prasar Bharati’s operations”, a senior official at I&B ministry told Business Standard.
 The I&B Ministry and Prasar Bharati chairman have been having differences since the past few months. According to sources, the minister and the chairman do not see eye to eye. On Monday Business Standard had reported that at an event on Friday, Manish Tewari, had said that he did not even know Jawahar Sircar. “I don’t know any Jawahar Sirkar”, Manish Tewari had said signaling the rising rift between the chairman and the minister.
 According to sources, Sircar had in his letter to the ministry said that the ministry was attempting to drive a wedge between the CEO, whole time members and the board. “This has been attempted recently through repeated superfluous questions as to whether the board has approved every minor executive action. The recent success of Prasar Bharati is all thanks to the full support it has received from the board. My earnest request to you is to please help us strengthen the public institutions of India and not to take part in their systematic erosion", Sircar had said his letter to the ministry.
 Meanwhile, the difference of opinion between the Prasar Bharati and the ministry that funds it is only expected to affect Prasar Bharati’s future. Currently, a committee formed by the union government to improve the functioning of the public service broadcaster is expected to make its suggestions on various aspects, including technological upgradation, content, government relations and social responsibilities of Doordarshan and All India Radio.
 In his letter to the ministry, Sircar had also pointed out that the board had necessary approvals before venturing into projects and that the ministry was interfering more than what was needed. The trouble started after Prasar Bharati proposed to start four new channels in Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhopal and Patna as the ministry objected to an earlier proposal to convert these existing channels into 24 hour channels. Currently these channels only serve for few hours a day. 
 “Is there any serious displeasure in the ministry that Prasar Bharati is reviving these four moribund kendras in the Hindi belt after decades of de facto inactivity and continuous drainage of the public exchequer, attempting sincerely to bridge the huge gap or annual loss of Rs 66 crore, trying to optimise utilisation of properties of 56,000 sq km valued at approximately Rs 418 crore, utilising 1,163 employees in these four stations when two studios each were telecasting for 2-3 hours a day, out of which more than half consisted of programmes made outside, and making better utilisation of seven expensive OB vans that are lethargically used for four-five days a year”, Sircar had said in his letter.
 Prasar Bharati has been hurt by the lack of manpower as it has not been able to fill up key vacancies in the past few years. Doordarshan currently runs 21 out of the more than 750 TV channels in India apart from Lok Sabha TV and Rajya Sabha TV.

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