Doordarshan (DD) says it is trying to induct media professionals into its news divisions at salaries comparable to the best in the sector. A similar process is said to be on at professionalising All India Radio (AIR).
According to an answer to a Parliament question, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore, put the number of vacancies at nearly a third of the sanctioned strength of AIR and DD – 16,764, of a sanctioned strength of 46,756. This shortage has impacted news operations as well. According to another reply on July 24 to a Parliament question, AIR has 515 “part time correspondents”, hired on annual contracts at the district level.
An official associated with the process of revamping Doordarshan says the focus is on recruiting “quality” professionals through an exhaustive written test and interview. “We are not in the game of Television Rating Points but are trying to improve the watchability of the channel,” the official said.
New additions include enriching the morning and evening prime time with bulletins on ‘speed news’, five-minute capsules with 15 news stories, and introducing financial news bulletins. Then, there is a weekly Sanskrit bulletin and another called ‘Good News India’ that focuses on positive stories from across the country. “We are not into breaking stories or sensationalism. Our job as a public broadcaster is to talk about developmental communication and cover news comprehensively,” an official said.
Programmes on defence, foreign policy, strategic and economic issues are more frequent as well, showing more regional news and giving inputs to the newly launched DD Kisan.
DD and AIR are the two arms of Prasar Bharati, established by an Act in 1997. Prior to this, both were media units under the ministry.