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Prasar Bharati employees to intensify stir

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, July 9: After having postponed its meeting thrice, the Group of Ministers formed to look into the proposal for restructuring of the Prasar Bharati is now slated to meet on July 11 with the immediate agenda of deciding on the status of the Corporation's over 40,000 employees.

The employees, who are demanding for an option to go back to the government or remain with the Prasar Bharati, have meanwhile declared that they would intensify their agitation from July 12.

The GoM meeting, which was earlier to be held on July 3 to take a final decision about giving the option, had to be deferred as the Home Minister, who is heading the Group, was not available being preoccupied with other work.

The employees' first demand is the repeal of the Prasar Bharati Act itself, says Anil Kumar, Chairman of the National Federation of Akashwani and Doordarshan Employees.

They argue that the Act has become irrelevant with the advent of so many private channels.

The autonomy Act was passed by Parliament in 1990 after the Supreme Court ruled that airwaves were public property and could not be monopolised.

The judgement came at a time when the AIR and Doordarshan were the only broadcasters and a need was strongly felt to have reflection of variety of views and perspectives in their news and other programming.

However, the media scene has undergone a sea change in the last 15 years and airwaves are now dominated by private players,-a scenario in which the space for social issues has shrunk.

The experience of past 10 years that Public Service and National Broadcasting of the country cannot survive without total support of the Government. There is a need for a National Broadcaster under Government and hence the Prasar Bharati Act should be repealed.

If a repeal was not possible immediately, the Act should be so amended as to keep the employees and the asssets of AIR and Doordarshan with the Government, on lines of Railway Board, says ? The GoM has now to take a final decision on the status of employees by early August, as per the directions of the Supreme Court which had in early February asked the government to do so within six months. Thereafter the matter was referred to a high-level Committee of Officers.

As per Section 11 of the Prasar Bharati Act, an option has to be given to the employees to remain with the broadcaster or go back to the government.

The Committee of Secretaries, which had been appointed to study the issue, is learnt to have given its report to the GoM, sources said.

Apart from the Home and the Minister for Information and Broadcatsing, the ministers for Personnel, Finance and Rural Development are also members of the GoM.


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