From Off the Record, the Monday gossip column in Deccan Herald:
“Tehelka editor Tarun Tejpal‘s fall from grace has brought a sense of “divine justice” in Prasar Bharati, where the invisible presence of Tejpal—thanks to his closeness to the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari—was one of the contributing factors behind a long-standing “difference of opinion” behind Tewari and Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar.
“Tejpal is believed to be one of the outsider journalists, whom Tewari wanted to rope in Doordarshan in an attempt to revamp the image of the public broadcaster. Sircar opposed the move and favoured full time government employee in the DD.
“The public broadcaster’s experiment with journalists from outside like defence analysts Ajai Shukla ended in a whimper as Shukla too resigned within days. Later a Tejpal company reportedly received contracts to prepare two different programmes for the DD and there was pressure on the top brass of Prasar Bharati to air those programmes in slots with high viewership.”
For the record, Tarun Tejpal’s name was removed from the board of Prasar Bharati after the alleged sex scandal felled him, and the Indian Express reported that just before the fall, Amaraman India Pvt. Ltd, a firm owned by him, had bagged a contract for 52 shows.
Photograph: courtesy Jitender Gupta/ Outlook*
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The Congress-led UPA’s election-eve attempt—like the BJP-led NDA’s attempt in 2004—to revive Doordarshan News has come a cropper.
The Indian Express has an editorial:
“Less than two months after a splashy advertisement campaign championing Doordarshan’s new-look daily prime-time news bulletin, Ajai Shukla, the anchor/editor of its English-language segment, has put in his papers. The resignation follows recent circulars ordering that the content and guests for each bulletin be first run past Doordarshan officials, as clear a declaration of censorial intent as there can be.
“This unwillingness to walk even the first baby steps in allowing controlled autonomy to the national channel — in freeing it of daily interference — simply reinforces the popular distrust of any claim by Doordarsan to be neutral and free.
“The I&B ministry has a sport of choice, to keep inquiring into ways in which viewers can be attracted to Doordarshan, but its experiments will keep coming to naught till it reckons with the bottomline. It is this: when viewers fail to flock to the channel, it is not veracity of the news put out by the channel that is in question. It is their scepticism that the news is in any way whole, that what is being presented is the full picture.
“Whichever way the government may spin the current controversy from here, that scepticism has been shown to be proper caution. What an ironic end to an exercise intended to prove the very opposite.”
Read the full editorial: Very costly experiment
Also read: The poll straws, they are a-blowin’ in DD News
To predict the meteorological weather, you have Mausam Bhavan. To predict the political weather, you have Doordarshan.
Before every general election, the government happily dips into the pockets of taxpayers and pumps in crores of rupees to revamp the supposedly “autonomous” broadcast behemoth.
And so it is in the year of the lord, 2013.
Under the new information and broadcasting minister Manish Tiwari, new appointments have been made to DD News, just as Ravi Shankar Prasad had in the NDA regime before the the 2004 elections. There are expensive advertisements in the newspapers announcing its shows; there is even a Twitter account.