Monday, June 30, 2014
Colour and gaiety marked the 20th anniversary celebrations of All India Radio (AIR), Udhagamandalam station, here on Saturday.
Singers and dancers – including tribals and folk artistes – from various places, showcased Indian culture in different forms.
The Nilgiris Collector P.Sankar, who participated as the chief guest, traced the history of broadcast through radio in the country and said that Tamil Nadu was a pioneer.
He added that in many aspects, the radio continues to be peerless.
The Additional Director General, AIR, South Zone, P.K.Subash, who presided, said that the progress of the Ooty station, notwithstanding challenges of a varied kind over the last two decades, was praiseworthy.
Its part in ensuring the welfare of the Nilgiris was significant.
Pointing out that its record in public broadcast was impeccable, he expressed the confidence that it would flourish in the years to come.
He added that very soon the Ooty FM station would be upgraded. From a one KW station it would become a ten KW broadcasting facility.
The Project Director, Hill Area Development Programme (HADP), Srinivas R.Reddy, said that the district administration and the AIR can collaborate in many ways.
Friday, June 27, 2014
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Every morning at the crack of dawn the babus of the information and broadcasting ministry get to work. Their job is to collate all the media feedback of the day for the Prime Minister so he can scan it before he starts his day.
"Under UPA rule, we used to collage the news items under different heads: political, security, finance and others. Now we group them under 'positive' and 'negative'" an Indian Information Service official tells The Telegraph. Even worse for the beleaguered babus Modi wants his cuttings an hour earlier than Manmohan Singh.
Positive and negative. Now that is called streamlining and cutting to the chase. It also effectively sums up what the ministry of information and broadcasting has turned into over the decades. It does not just produce endless little preachy documentaries about AIDS, running water and happy Hindu-Muslim-Christian children, all apparently made by one Devendra Khandelwal. It keeps tabs on the media.
There's nothing nefarious about it. All governments do it. But in a country like the United States that's the clearly understood objective of the White House Press Office. Here the PMO currently has no media advisor reports DNA and the BJP's newly appointed spokesperson M J Akbar has not briefed the press at all. What sounds like a function of the PMO is being done by I&B ministry whose stated objectives are quite different.
As a ministry, the I&B claims to be a well-meaning nanny. One of its latest press releases, for example, is an advisory to television channels to be extremely careful about portraying scenes of "negligent or rash driving" and demanding any such scene be accompanied by finger-wagging messages like "driving two-wheeler without wearing helmet is dangerous and illegal".
In practice the ministry has been more of a Big Brother. Prakash Javadekar, the new minister for Information and Broadcasting, acknowledges that and he places the blame firmly on the Congress. That is justified. During the Emergency, the Congress used the I&B ministry as a police truncheon to try and cow the media into line.
When Vidya Charan Shukla, the I&B minister during the Emergency, died in 2013, Sohail Hashmi wrote on Kafila his many achievements included "snapping power supply to newspapers critical of the Emergency, introducing draconian censorship, banning magazines and newspapers, and sealing printing presses that dared publish anything critical of the infamous Mrs G or her Emergency regime". And Shukla famously banned Kishore Kumar songs from All India Radio because Kishore had refused to sing at an Indira Gandhi rally.
Javadekar rightly bemoaned the freedom of expression sins of the Congress during Emergency. The Justice Shah Commission said the likes of Shukla exercised power "like a medieval despot." But clamping down on the press was not entirely politically suicidal for Shukla. That same Shukla later found a home with VP Singh, Chandrasekhar and the BJP proving his resume bothered few political parties.
Javadekar wins hurrahs for making the right noises at venues like the Leadership Summit at Goafest 2014:
There has to be an absolute freedom. Assurance of complete freedom to the media is important in new India. The right to criticism is your right. Only when that freedom is nurtured, can we say what we have achieved as a democratic nation.
Since then he has gone a step further. When asked by Karan Thapar whether India could move towards a future where the I&B ministry "ceases to exist", Javadekar said"Philosophically or ideologically I'd be willing to do that."
Brave words. But will he find many takers among the powers that be?
Government's instinct is to consolidate power not to give it up. While Javadekar might talk about the "right to criticism" it does not mean anyone in the government will rush to demand that cases against those students lampooning the prime minister in their college magazine be dropped. Freedom of expression gets plenty of lip service but few politicians have any incentive to walk the talk. It's not that the PMO is ordering crackdowns on students drawing up offensive crossword puzzles. It might well be that policemen and local activists trying to curry favour with the new masters in Delhi are over zealous in their crackdown.
But for the PMO it is a missed opportunity writes Thapar in the Hindustan Times:
I would have expected Mr Modi to immediately distance himself from the Kerala police action, criticise the highhanded arrests and demand the cases be dropped. Once again, that would also have been the politically astute response. But all we got was silence.
One word from the PMO could have sent a clear message and prevented another unnecessary hullabaloo from erupting again. But few politicians want to go out of their way to do that in practice even if the I&B minister says the right things in the abstract.
Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar takes Javadekar at his word and asks that he "go down in history as the man who prepared India for a future without the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting".
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Orders two FM channels to phase out casual presenters
Nearly 200 presenters will be affected by the directive in Delhi alone, many of whom have served All India Radio for 10 to 25 years. The national figure will be much higher.
The official order, issued on March 20, 2014, states: "The process of phasing out of FM presenters/radio jockeys above the age of 35 years should be completed within six months."
Prasar Bharati has directed that bookings of all casual announcers/ comperes/ anchors/ presenters of FM (Gold/ Rainbow channels) and Yuvavani channels be stopped immediately on attaining the upper age limit.
The maximum age limit for the Yuvavani channel has been restricted to 30 years and will apply only to full-fledged exclusive Yuvavani services. However, the services of approved announcers will be "utilised and continued on the basis of annual review of their performance but not in any case beyond 60 years". A casual presenter is offered a maximum of six days a month but not exceeding 72 days in a year on a temporary contract.
While Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar did not comment on the issue, an AIR spokesperson said: "AIR, like other established broadcasting organisations of the world, is professionally bound to review, recast and recreate the panels of casual jockeys every year to bring in fresh talent and break monotony."
He added that jockeys for FM services of AIR were booked against a temporary contract and paid in accordance with the fee structure of AIR. Casual jockeys/ announcers are not regular employees of AIR, more so of the FM Rainbow and FM Gold, which do not have sanctioned posts of announcers. While some casual presenters have alternate sources of income, many depend solely on their monthly contracts with AIR.
Sunil Varma, who first joined AIR as a presenter in 1985, said the only reason provided by the broadcaster was that it was their mandate to promote new talent. "No one has objections to promoting new talent, but the argument of age fails on a medium like radio when no one gauge a person's age by only listening to voice," he said.
Subhadra, who joined the Delhi B channel as a teenager and subsequently moved to FM, said: "I have worked for music all my life and I never picked up a job because of my love for radio."
Casual presenters have also raised an objection to the considerable age gap between them and their regular counterparts. "Clearly, the concept of equality as guaranteed under Constitution is intended to be defeated by such a directive. It, therefore, is violative of our constitutional rights of profession," said one of them.
Monday, June 23, 2014
It is learnt that consultations are already underway for the launch of a 24-hour agriculture-based channel which could leverage the expertise Doordarshan has in creating programmes for farmers and rural audiences and telecast them to a wider audience.
While different Doordarshan channels regularly beam programmes meant for farmers, there is a view that the public broadcaster would be able to create more awareness and educate farmers if there is a channel specially dedicated to agriculture.
According to the Prasar Bharati Act, agriculture is one of the fields to which Prasar Bharati is required to pay special attention.
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Updated: June 21, 2014 10:21 IST
"It is impossible to judge the age of a radio presenter by his/her voice. And in some instances depending upon the character of a programme or channel, listeners may indeed prefer a more mature presenter to a teeny-bopper. It will be difficult to imagine a voice of a teenager presenting FM Gold shows on ghazals, classical and folk songs. In the FM Rainbow shows, we play old Hindi/English songs," said Sunil Varma, a presenter who stands to lose his job.
He said the same can be said for shows that are interview-based, and also a young presenter may not even be familiar or have heard of music legends of yesteryears.
The directive also implies that about 200 employees, many of whom have served All India Radio for 10 to 25 years or more, will find themselves without a job in the Delhi station of AIR alone and the number will be significantly higher on an all-India basis.
Another employee, who stands to lose out, Jayati Ojha said:
Monday, June 16, 2014
Accompanied by Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar and Mumbai Doordarshan director Mukesh Sharma, the new minister visited the studios, and met with the staff—producers as well as technicians—and told them his goal. "I want to see DD and AIR become the first choice of the viewers and listeners. They should be able to compete with the private TV channels and FM radio stations and win the hearts of Indians," he said.
Javadekar will depend on public feedbacks to revive the popularity of DD and AIR. On the I&B ministry website, he will soon start a 'Minister's corner', inviting suggestions from anyone on how to improve the performance of Prasar Bharati.
The minister agreed that there is need for investing in infrastructure and better equipment. "We will look into the budgetary allocations. Also, the hiring of employees, which had stopped, will be reviewed," Javadekar said, while addressing a press meet after visiting the Doordarshan Sahyadri office in the city for the first time since taking charge of the ministry.
To TelevisionPost.com's query about giving autonomy to Prasar Bhatrati and accepting other recommendations of the Sam Pitroda Committee, the minister said that Sircar won't have any complaints. However, he added that the ministry will keenly take note of the performance and look for results.
Moving away from the area of public broadcasting, Javadekar said that while he has no intention of stopping private FM players from airing news, it should be reliable. "I don't see any reason why they (private FM) have to use AIR news. They can use other reliable news sources like PTI or UNI and present it like print publications do," he said.
When asked about the ministry's take on the paid news menace, Javadekar said that while the matter related to paid news during elections is sub judice in the Supreme Court, there is also another form of paid news, private treaties. "As the matter of paid news is in the SC, I would not like to comment. But, we have got reports and have a view, which we will announce soon," he said.
He further added, "I am very concerned about paid news. Candidates resort to paid news because there is a limit on the amount which they can spend. Earlier, they used to give advertisements and sponsored articles, but they cannot do so now. We want to do away with this menace once and for all. The purity of journalism should be there. News should look like news, an advertisement like an advertisement."
Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar – said that the government may also consider permitting news of Press Trust of India or United News of Indiato be broadcast on private radio stations.
Addressing a press meet at the Doordarshan Kendra in Worli, Mumbai, he said the Government was committed to making Doordarshan the first choice of viewers across the country and a special provision will be made in the Union Budget for a total revamp of DD.
Javadekar, who was in the western metropolis to make a full appraisal of the Mumbai Kendra of Doordarshan, held discussion with officials about future plans and said, "The blue print for revamp of national and regional channels of DD is being drawn and this will involve going for staff and artiste recruitment on a large scale. I and B ministry is planning to change the look and feel of the national and regional channels of DD."