DD news scribes to quit on their own: report

NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting ministry is not in favour of taking direct action against political appointees made by the previous government in Prasar Bharati, which looks after Doordarshan and All India Radio, but would prefer such people "go on their own."

(A late evening Press Trust of India report said some of the journalists taken on contract for the newly-launched DD News channel by the Prasar Bharati last year during the BJP-led NDA rule had resigned following the change of government at the centre.

("Some of them have notified us of their decision (to quit). DD News has become self-sustainable, adding any change in its content is for the Prasar Bharati to decide," PTI report added quoting highly-placed sources.

(According to the report, both the government and the journalists had the option of exiting from the contract after giving a three-month notice.)

Earlier in the day when asked if there was a need to make changes in Doordarshan News and purge it of the so-called saffron followers, a senior info-broad ministry representative had told journalists, "It's up to them (people allegedly owing allegiance to the Bharatiya Janata Party) to take a decision. The government is not ruling out anything, nor making any announcements."

The appointments made last year included that of Deepak Chaurasia as consultant editor. When the query was made more specific whether Chaurasia (formerly with Aaj Tak) and few others would be served notices leading to their exit because of severe criticism from Left parties, the ministry representative said, "There is a dominant perception (on the named people) and we have to address such perception."

Still trying to distance the ministry from Parser Bharati, an autonomous body modeled on the BBC, the government representative said that people like Chaurasia, and others who had been hired from private satellite channels for DD News were contractual employees and that contracts can be terminated mutually.

However, he denied knowledge of termination letters being served by Prasar Bharati on Chaurasia and company as reported in a section of the media till today.

Still, the I&B ministry representative paid a back-handed compliment to Chaurasia and company's performance at DD News saying that the news channel has "almost become self-sufficient."

A downsizing of Prasar Bharati too has been ruled out by the I&B ministry at the moment.

Chaurasia was brought from Aaj Tak to DD News when it was re-launched in October, ahead of the general elections. Some others followed Chaurasia from the country's 'subse tez news channel'; few of who returned like prodigal sons to Aaj Tak after some months.

Since their arrival, Chaurasia and company have had tough time with a majority of the Indian Information Service people whose stranglehold over DD and AIR is legendary. One such IIS official was shifted out of DD News and sent to the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity by the previous government on alleged differences with Chaurasia.

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