Karan Thapar’s article “A fight we must all join” (March 12) is timely. When Doordarshan and Akashvani, the two key arms of Prasar Bharati, are propagating the government’s actions in a disproportionately favourable manner, the move of Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani (pictured) to throttle its residual freedom must evoke loud protests. After she took over, the morning news broadcast by Akashvani has the Prime Minister’s speech or his day’s programme as the lead item, irrespective of any other major event. Also, about five minutes (out of 15) are devoted to publicising the welfare schemes initiated by this government. Now we hear news in government advertisements rather than the opposite. Doordarshan too shows little media freedom in evaluating government actions objectively.
That our Prime Minister is indifferent to the non-government media is well-known. This may have something to do with his own unpleasant experience with it when he was the chief minister of Gujarat—he was hounded by it for the 2002 riots. Still, free media is the fourth pillar of a democracy and the two wings of Prasar Bharati play a key role in shaping public opinion, particularly in rural and semi-urban areas. So the efforts to curb its voice should be challenged. More so, when there is a chairman fighting the ministry to preserve its sanctity.
Y G Chouksey
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