Monday, November 29, 1999

GoM on Prasar meets

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New Delhi, June 17 (PTI) The Group of Ministers on Prasar Bharti met here today and discussed issues relating to recruitment and status of officers on duty in the organisation. The GoM is headed by Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram. Urban Development Minister Jaipal Reddy, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni and Law Minister Veerappa Moily are the other members. The Group of Ministers was reconstituted in February this year after the previous GoM had ceased to exist at the end of the tenure of UPA-I. It met for the first time in April 13 when it cleared the long-pending issue of financial restructuring of the public broadcaster. The GoM had been constituted to deal with issues of recruitment and status of officers on deputation in the Prasar Bharti. Fiftyone television news correspondents were appointed on contract by Doordarshan in 1988. Their promotion was, however, opposed by IIS officers. The Central Administrative Tribunal in 2000 directed that they be provided all benefits of the service but this order has been challenged in the Andhra Pradesh High Court. The matter is sub-judice. Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has said that the ministry was trying to resolve the issue before the end of current fiscal. The primary purpose of the separate GoM for Prasar Bharati had arisen about a decade ago to work as a watchdog on the financial aspects of the public broadcaster, which at that time was totally dependent on government funding. The GoM has also made several recommendations over the years with regard to streamlining the procedure for selection of programmes and ensuring greater transparency in the functioning of the public broadcaster. Recently, Soni had reiterated that Prasar Bharati should ensure transparency in its dealings, particularly as far as evaluation committees for programmes are concerned. Apart from the GoM, the functioning of Prasar Bharati is also overseen by the standing committee of MPs on Information Technology and the consultative committee of MPs attached to the ministry.

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