No intention of interfering in Prasar Bharti’s functioning: Venkaiah Naidu

New Delhi: Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday made it clear that government has no intention of interfering in the functioning of Prasar Bharati amidst reports that CEO of the public broadcaster Jawhar Sircar was planning to quit before his term ends in February next year over the issue. The reports were also dismissed as “unfair and baseless” by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

“Reports about the likely replacement of Prasar Bharati CEO and that the present incumbent, Sircar is upset due to alleged interference by the Government are totally baseless, unfair and purely speculative,” an I&B Ministry source said.

“The post of the CEO is not vacant as the present incumbent will be retiring in February, 2017. All the media reports are purely speculative and are uncalled for. The process for appointment of new CEO has not yet been initiated, leave alone discussion about possible successor,” the source said.

Sircar had last week said he was considering quitting and that he had thought “very strongly about that option… However, I cannot run away until the final phase of transparency is assured. Prasar Bharati’s future has to be ensured”.

Addressing a meeting to discuss issues and challenges being faced by the Prasar Bharati, Naidu said the government would create an enabling environment for better working of the public broadcaster.

According to official sources,”The Minister said the government has the highest regard for the Board of Prasar Bharati and has no intention of interfering in the functioning of the Corporation and, on the contrary, would only like to create an enabling environment for better functioning of Prasar Bharati”. Naidu assured Prasar Bharati that its efforts to overcome various bottlenecks would be adequately supported by the I&B Ministry.

The I&B minister also expressed concern that many cable operators have not been carrying the mandatory Doordarshan channels on their networks and suggested setting up of suitable monitoring mechanisms. Minister of State for I&B Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Prasar Bharati Chairman A Surya Prakash, Sircar and members of the board that runs the public broadcaster also attended the 90 minute-long presentation.

Naidu also stressed on the need to improve the content and quality of production so as to increase the viewership. Sources said that Naidu in the meeting also mentioned that some unwanted speculative reports had appeared in the media about Prasar Bharati. He emphasised that due processes would be followed.