Kamath lauds Prasar Bharati, points to its wider role of informing & educating

NEW DELHI: The new chairperson of Prasar Bharati, noted right wing columnist MV Kamath, feels that unlike private satellite channels, Doordarshan and All India Radio cannot take lightly matters as they have to keep in mind the sensibilities of people and the nation, at large.

Praising Prasar Bharati to the skies, Kamath said: "We may underestimate it, but no show can be compared to DD and AIR. It's a fantastic organization."

Addressing journalists for the first time yesterday after taking over as the chairperson of Prasar Bharati, Kamath, a former editor of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India,, amongst other publications, said that DD's massive reach is its strength. "DD National , for example, is watched by 239 million that probably is more than the population of the US," he said, reeling out more facts on the strengths of Prasar Bharati.

According to Kamath, if all the private TV channels' viewership were put together, then also it would be "three-fourth of that of DD." He added: "It's easy to condemn Prasar Bharati as it is public sector undertaking and dependent on people like you."

Pointing out that Prasar Bharati's primary role is to inform, educate and entertain (in that order) people, Kamath said, "We would not want to do a Baywatch where pretty girls are shown in bikinis. Somebody else can do it."

However, Kamath admitted that Prasar Bharati cannot be called fully autonomous till the time it continues to get financial help from the government. But this "great organization" should not lose sight of its primary role of informing people in its zeal to earn revenue, he added.

Still, he also admitted that Prasar Bharati has some limitations that don't bind the rest of the media, especially journalists. Citing the example of questioning done by journalists from private media houses and those from DD or AIR, Kamath said, "Those from DD and AIR, for example, cannot be as forthright as you all can be with ministers or politicians. Because we have to be proper."

At this point Kamath took a pot shot at private satellite channels saying most of them do not follow some basic ethics of journalism.

"I felt very sad when during the Gujarat riots some private channels showed bodies," Kamath said, adding that during his time, journalists were not even allowed to mention the area of killings during sensitive situations. "We have to be sensitive to the sensibilities of people and the nation at large," he added, pointing out that post 9/11, 2001 no TV channel in the US showed bodies or such ghastly images.

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