Prasar officials resent move to hire outsiders for AIR news channel

NEW DELHI: Indian pubcaster Prasar Bharati, managing Doordarshan and All Indian Radio, oft-accused of being dull, drab and unprofessional, especially where news is concerned, now finds itself being panned for trying to get help from professionals.


Prasar Bharati's sudden love for people from the private sector hasn't gone down well with the Indian Information Service (IIS), cadre that is now feeling threatened with the influx of people from private channels into DD and also a decision to induct nearly 200 persons from outside government in AIR.

A meeting was held today at Prasar Bharati to dwell on the need to get more manpower to man a proposed radio news channel in short-wave, scheduled to be put on air in the first week of April.

According to information available with, today's meeting relating to more personnel in AIR turned out to be inconclusive. Especially in the light of the fact that a rebellion is brewing in DD News where IIS-cadre officials are objecting to a memo from the information and broadcasting ministry stating that consulting editor Deepak Chaurasia's team would be looking after the news content --- a function that was primarily being carried out by IIS offers with years of stranglehold over the organisation.

Though Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma could not be reached for comments, organisation sources said hiring of people from outside has been necessitated as there is an acute shortage of trained and semi-knowledgeable professionals, including technicians, for running a radio news channel.

Surprising as it may sound, but Prasar Bharati has over 40,000 employees on its rolls and, at one time, an expert committee set up by the government itself, had suggested that the organisation should lose some flab.

The situation in DD News has reached a flashpoint where disgruntled IIS officers were almost on the verge of making their protest official by submitting a memorandum to the ministry, protesting against the move "to reduce them to just copywriters and pen-pushers, while people taken recently from private channels rule the roost."

However, since IIS officers are government employees, the fire seemed to be waning a bit this evening as inquiries revealed that the proposed memo has not found very many signatories.

However, since IIS officers are government employees, the fire seemed to be waning a bit today evening as inquiries revealed that the proposed memo has found not very many signatories.

"We are upset as these new kids on the block are running amok, sometimes with news biased towards the government. But the big point is that submitting a memo would mean taking on these people who seem to have political clout," one of the disgruntled IIS officer told

On the other hand, the fact remains that government employees, on deputation in the autonomous Prasar Bharati, still treat their job as government employees are wont to do.

Critics have pointed out that if a TV news channel has to compete with private channels, then things have to move fast. There have been instances when graphics have not been ready on time for DD News.

With the general elections drawing near, expect more such controversies coming out of Prasar Bharati.

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