The posts of Doordarshan and Akashvani directors general could “not be filled in the absence of suitable candidates” and so these posts are vacant since September and December 2019, respectively, the government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
In response to an unstarred question by former Prasar Bharti CEO and TMC MP Jawhar Sircar, union minister of information and broadcasting Anurag Thakur said, “DG, DD News has been entrusted the additional charge of DG, Doordarshan and Pr. DG, NSD has been entrusted the additional charge of DG, AIR.”
The minister said the vacancies were circulated on September 4, 2019 and January 23, 2020, respectively. But these could “not be filled in the absence of suitable candidates”.
Sircar had also sought to know “the reasons for keeping the post of Chairman in Prasar Bharati vacant for one-and-a-half years, knowing fully well that it would weaken the autonomous organisation”.
“CEO Prasar Bharati is officiating as the Chairman of the Board as per Section 8 of the Prasar Bharati Broadcasting Corporation of India Act, 1990,” the I&B minister stated.
In May, Newslaundry how the appointment of CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati as chairman gives him immense powers in Prasar Bharati, which runs the state broadcasters All India Radio and Doordarshan. Prasar Bharati’s board is supposed to have 13 members – chairman, CEO, member finance, member personnel, I&B nominee, directors general of AIR and DD, and six part-time members – but . The post of member personnel fell vacant in 2017.
Prasar Bharati has a long culture of favouring the government of the day. Vempati has only continued the trend. In December last year, for example, when Modi inaugurated the Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi, Vempati the “extensive preparations” made by DD for the visit, and that “about 146 TV channels in India carried Doordarshan’s live coverage of the day”.
It’s not just the central government, Prasar Bharati is conspicuously favourable to states run by the BJP. As at the time, DD News launched a show called Kya Bole UP to coincide with the Uttar Pradesh assembly election in which it passed off the party’s affiliates as “common citizens”.