History was created when the technical staff of biggest public service broadcaster of the biggest democracy in the world refrained from work in protest against the functioning of Prasar Bharati, the body that runs AIR and DD. Important broadcasts like cricket commentary of the Nagpur Test and live coverage of the Asian Games could not reach the masses. Gujarati tunes on Vividh Bharati and Gujarati Service of All India Radio (AIR) also went off the air.
While Gujarat’s Doordarshan centres continued to air their pre-recorded programmes, all the nine AIR centres in the state went off the air. There are nearly 1,500 employees of AIR and DD working in the state.
Gujarat also has two major production centres of DD. A release issued by Vijay Gajjar, organising secretary of NFADE (National Federation of Akashawani and Doordarshan Employees), West Zone and Trilok Sanghani, coordinator of NFADE, Ahmedabad said: “The basic idea of autonomy to Prasar Bharati has miserably failed. On the contrary, the image of both the mass mediums as a public service broadcaster has deteriorated after the formation of Prasar Bharati. Moreover, the mammoth task of providing an easy platform to deserving talent spread over every nook and corner of our country has also been halted due to want of sufficient funds.” The strike in Gujarat is part of the nationwide strike by AIR and DD employees that started at 9 am on Tuesday. The employees, who fall under 21 associations of NFADE, have gone on a 48-hour boycott of work.
In Delhi, the Doordarshan Engineers’ Association general secretary PN Bhakta claimed: “The technicians are demanding repeal of the Prasar Bharati Act as it has not been able to function.” Journalists and anchors were on duty but AIR could not broadcast any bulletin after 10 am due to technical disruptions, the federation claimed. But AIR sources said that there was no “total disruption”.
Doordarshan director-general Aruna Sharma said that regional centres at Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Jalandhar and Thiruvananthapuram were not operating. “They are showing national programmes. News is running and Asian Games telecast is fine,” she told PTI.
AIR director-general Noureen Naqvi could not be contacted for comments.