Television

DD Guwahati brings official to book

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan Guwahati Programme Production Centre's director B Chakrabarty has been suspended on grounds of irregularity in allocation of commissioned programmes.

According to Prasar Bharati sources, a departmental inquiry conducted by Prasar Bharati revealed prima facie evidence to show that Chakrabarty did not conduct himself in a "free and fair" manner in allocating commissioned programmes from the North East software development package.

The departmental inquiry was ordered by DD director-general Dr S Y Quraishi, following complaints from the North East Television Producers' Association. They alleged that the programmes were allocated to outside producers, especially to an alleged cartel of producers called 'Doordarshan Empanelled Producers' Association, New Delhi.

The grouse of the NE producers was that, the outside producers bagged most of the lucrative projects with their 'smart operating' techniques depriving the local producers their share of programmes.

DD Kendra North East had invited proposals for programmes to be made on the literary works of Sahitya Akademi Award winners. As per the Commissioned Programme guidelines, the proposals were to be received in response to the advertisements placed in newspapers and broadcast on TV and radio.

In all, there were 103 proposals that were considered, out of which 62 were approved by the Evaluation Committee. It has now been brought to light that out of the 103 proposals, 22 were unsolicited proposals and were hardly relevant to the advertisement placed. All 22 proposals were cleared for commissioning.

There were allegations that DD official accepted 'cuts' ranging from 15 to 25 per cent, in some cases even 40 per cent for clearing the proposals. Surprisingly, there were banners put outside the Doordarshan Kendra announcing the rate of commission.

Chakrabarty could not be contacted for comments despite attempts made by indiantelevision.com.

Nine producers complained that their proposals were rejected without even screening. They alleged that they received the letter calling them to appear before the evaluation committee, after the due date was over. It has been found out that those producers who had struck a deal were intimated over telephone. (Apparently some producers were able to attend the meeting on time, even though their letters reached them much later.)

According to the sources, from among the producers who 'bagged' commissioned programmes, there were some with no knowledge of film making, and a couple of others with dubious professional credentials. These producers bagged programmes worth Rs 0.9 to 2.4 million.

Currently, out of the 62 proposals that were cleared, 24 proposals have been found to be manouvred and now stand rejected. Rest of the 38 proposals were given the go ahead, Prasar Bharati sources said.

Nine producers who had complained about late receipt of invitation, were asked to present themselves before an evaluation committee in Guwahati on 20 March 2003. Their proposals will be considered on merit.

Departmental action will be taken against Chakrabarty and punishment could be accorded on circumstantial evidence, the sources said.

Also Doordarshan Guwhati's deputy director general P K Singson, has been asked for an explanation for his inaction in curbing the corruption.

The Departmental Inquiry was conducted by Uday Sahay, IPS, the Chief Vigilance Officer of Prasar Bharati. The Office of the CVO was established in 2001, with a view to provide an internal cleansing mechanism for Doordarshan and AIR, so that the matters do not end up in CBI's lap every now and then. Prasar Bharati has a Rs 220 million software budget for the North East region.

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