Tandon out of LS TV, reportedly 5th exit in last few months

MUMBAI: The executive director (programmes) of Lok Sabha Television, Sudhir Tandon, has been removed from the post. He is reportedly the fifth person in the last few months to leave or 'be asked to leave' the yet-to-find-its-feet channel, which was launched last year.

Tandon, who retired from the post of deputy director general and station director of the Delhi Kendra of Doordarshan last August after a career spanning 35 years, had been with Lok Sabha TV from the time it was conceived in November 2005 and steered its launch in mid-2006.

Vartika Nanda, executive producer of the channel, has been asked by Bhaskar Ghose, chief executive, Lok Sabha TV, to hold charge until further orders.

While no reasons have been given for his removal, it is learnt that Tandon had been asked some months earlier to 'show performance'.

Tandon tells that he did not know what the reasons for his removal were, and that he had never been told anything. Said Tandon: "Maybe they (the top mandarins at Prasar Bharati) felt that Mr Ghosh and I are two different personalities who did not gel."

Tandon said: "Mine is the fifth case over the past six months in which someone has been asked to go, or conditions created in which s/he could not work, so they left."

Asked about being told to show performance, Tandon's reaction was: "What performance should I show? The Lok Sabha TV is what it is today because of me." Besides, he says he had never been asked to give any appraisal in writing about his performance.

Tandon added: "Do remember that it was on the basis of my design and programming that Lok Sabha TV has so much of variety, and that Speaker Somnath Chatterjee himself had said that he is proud of this unique channel, in terms of Parliament coverage."

Ghosh, when contacted, said: "At that time what he was doing was not really what the channel needed." Asked whether this was the case right from the beginning, since Tandon had been there since inception, Ghosh said he would not discuss these issues.

Asked whether the manner of removal was in keeping with government rules, Ghosh refused to comment. When pressed on the matter, Ghosh firmly said: "I am not going to comment on this."

Meanwhile, the channel has succeeded in attracting commercial sponsorships from a few advertisers commencing from the winter session in November.

The channel was formally launched with the monsoon session of the Lok Sabha in mid-July, though it had a trial run in May in the extended budget session which had discussed the office of profit controversy.

In a recent meet on Legislature and the Media, Chatterjee had mooted a recommendation that the meetings of the 24 Ministry-linked Standing Committees be thrown open to the media. At present, these are not open to the media, but the reports are laid in the tables of both Houses of Parliament. It is understood that he has proposed that these be thrown open initially to LS TV.

Though there were initial plans to bring both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha under its ambit, the plan was abandoned after the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, rejected the idea after consulting members of the upper house.

Thus, while LS TV functions as a 24-hour satellite channel, the Rajya Sabha is covered in a 20-km radius through a low power transmitter by Doordarshan during the session periods only.

The LS TV is one of the few channels in the world owned by the Parliament of the country. While the British Broadcast Corporation manages the Parliament Channel in the United Kingdom, similar channels in the United States and in Canada are managed by organisations of cable operators.

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