For the first time ever, Doordarshan is on prime time news. And, it's not for the right reason. Allegations have been levelled against the government for trying to muzzle, censor news on the official TV channel.
So much so, I&B minister Manish Tewari has been forced to deny the allegation that government was interfering in the functioning of the state-run TV channel. "Government does not interfere in the functioning of Doordarshan," Tewari told the media on Saturday. "The autonomy to Prasar Bharati is guaranteed by the parliament."
To many his words sounded hollow. More so, after a Narendra Modi interview that was telecast on DD was found to have been "edited" in such a manner that it smacked of muzzling opposition to the UPA government which it is believed will be shown the door on May 16.
Already, the fight is in the open. BJP has accused the accused the government of censorship. To add to the "political thriller', Prasar Bharati chief executive officer Jawhar Sircar admitted on Friday that portions of the interview "were apparently edited". He was not gracious to Manish Tewari who he mentioned as the "young minister". His grouse was that DD was refused autonomy by the powers that be.
"The ministry lost an opportunity to convince a young minister to break this long traditional linkage between the ministry and the news division which has continued unabated even after PB was born and assigned its distinct role in 1997," Sircar said.
On Saturday Modi expressed concern, saying that DD was struggling to maintain its professional freedom. "We have witnessed the horrors of the emergency when freedom of press and freedom of expression were suppressed. It is a blot on our democracy. On days such as this, I feel very sad to see our national TV channel struggling to maintain its professional freedom," Modi tweeted.
Not exactly panning out like 'Ramayana', with which DD hit big-time, but what's happening with DD these last couple of days definitely says a lot, and on, 'Hum Log', the title of one of the first DD programmes that had caught the imagination of the nation.