Does anyone remember the Prasar Bharati Bill? The highly publicized Bill, Which was meant to free Doordarshan of government control and make it an autonomous corporation, has now been put in gold storage, at least for the time being.
Apparently, the information and broadcasting ministry had proposed some amendments to Bill. But the Narasimha Rao regime is of the opinion that there is no need to rush to decision without consulting the major Opposition parties. And this pretext has come in handy for the government to postpone the introduction of the Bill in Parliament.
But insiders say that the real reason for the delay lies elsewhere as most of the amendments suggested are minor and wouldn’t change the character of the Bill. An example: Section 23 of the Bill, which deals with the powers of the central government once the Prasar Bharati Corporation is set up, has been merely elaborated. And slight notification has been proposed in Section 25, which deals the action to taken against the Prasar Bharati board for non-compliance with directions issued under Section 23.
Similar amendments have been suggested in Section 11(1), which has taken away the right of the officers of the Indian Information Service.(IIS) and Central Secretariat Service (CSS) to decide whether they want to continue with the central government or join the autonomous Prasar Bharati Corporation.
But the government has conveniently used the issue to delay the Prasar Bharati Bill. However, government spokesmen deny such suggestions. Explains
A senior official in the I&B ministry, ” The delay in implementing the Prasar Bharati Bill is purely technical. To attribute motives will be misrepresenting facts. The entire broadcasting scenario has changed. The Act needs substantial amendments.”
Such protestations of innocence notwithstanding, the fact remains that it has been more than three years since the Prasar Bharati idea was mooted. And if Doordarshan is to survive the onslaught of foreign TV, the government better get things going.
Ketan Narottam Tanna/ New Delhi