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Aaj Tak's Chaurasia offered DD News channel head position

NEW DELHI: It is almost official now. Aaj Tak's political editor Deepak Chaurasia has been made an offer as head of pubcaster Doodarshan's news channel, which is slated to be relaunched on 3 November.

Sources in Prasar Bharati, which oversees the functioning of DD and All India Radio, confirmed that an offer has been made to Chaurasia to "head DD News."

But the same sources also added that Chaurasia, who has become one of the known faces on Aaj Tak, is yet to revert to them on the offer, which entails a monthly pay packet of approximately Rs 150,000.

It is being said that if Chaurasia leaves for DD News, he is likely to take along a few others from Aaj Tak, a la Dibang when he left for NDTV India and took along with him people like Naghma and Sikta Deb.

Attempts made by indiantelevision.com to elicit a response from Chaurasia proved futile today as his cell phone had been switched off in the evening.

Still, that an offer has been made by Prasar Bharati to Chaurasia and that certain damage control exercises were on at Aaj Tak on was indirectly confirmed by a senior executive of TV Today Network, the parent company of India's leading Hindi news channel and its English language sibling Headlines Today.

When quizzed today on Chaurasia, a senior executive of TV Today Network admitted to indiantelevision.com, "Well, he is very well aware of the various pitfalls of working there (DD News)."

According to sources close to Chaurasia, the young TV reporter has not been able to make up his mind yet as he still has "certain apprehensions" on the role he will play in DD News.

The sources also said that Chaurasia is in the process of writing a letter to the India Today Group's owner Aroon Purie explaining his position vis-?-vis certain seniors.

The sources said that Chaurasia's decision would also depend largely on whether he sees a brighter future for himself in his present organisation.

Observers here feel that the still-government-controlled DD and its news channel do offer Chaurasia a platform as the head of the venture, but he may not get much freedom as Prasar Bharati's strings are still pulled by the government.

The flip side, according to observers, is that despite nurturing ambitions, Chaurasia is unlikely to get the big kick of seeing himself heading the Aaj Tak channel replacing the present news director for TV Today Network, Uday Shankar.

Meanwhile, the government is looking into the aspect of whether DD News could attract censure from the Election Commission (EC) as the relaunch date of 3 November would be very close to the dates when the state elections in five states are scheduled.

"We'll have to look into the issue, but as of now we have received no direction from the EC (on DD News)," a senior I&B ministry official said today, adding, "The launch date of DD News had been finalised much earlier."

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