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I&B Ministry, Prasar Bharati in tussle over appointment of director

Arindam Majumder & Shreya Jai/New Delhi 15 Feb 18 | 01:07 AM

Not all is well at public broadcaster Prasar Bharati. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) and the board of Prasar Bharati are at loggerheads over the appointment of a director in the governing board.

Sources aware of the development said that discontent is brewing at the top level of Prasar Bharati over a ministry instruction to appoint a serving IAS officer as Member (Personnel) of Prasar Bharati. Member (personnel) is responsible for all human resources and administrative decisions of the body and has a representation on the board. The controversy stems from the fact that Prasar Bharati Act 1990 doesn’t allow a serving bureaucrat to be appointed permanently in core management positions which are CEO, Member (finance) and Member (personnel) and are full-time positions. The I&B Ministry wants to make an exception to it.

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According to agenda of the meeting, the Ministry wants an IAS to take charge in order to solve issues like pay fixation, seniority, promotions, disciplinary proceedings and legal cases.

“Based on suggestion of manpower audit, some tough decisions may have to be taken in Prasar Bharati. An IAS officer could be an asset in such circumstances. It is proposed that for at least one term the post of Member (Personnel) be filled up by an IAS officer keeping the relevant recruitment provision in abeyance," says the agenda of board meeting, which will be held on Thursday. The agenda of the meeting was reviewed by Business Standard.

“It’s going to be a stormy board meeting. Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body and the ministry cannot dictate whom to appoint in the board. The decision is taken by a committee headed by the Vice President of India," said a person aware of the development. The Prasar Bharati board comprises a chairman, an executive member (CEO), a member (finance), a member (personnel), and six part-time members, a representative of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting and the director generals of All India Radio and Doordarshan as ex-officio members. 

The position fell vacant after S C Panda retired in February last year. The ministry is understood to have advertised twice to appoint a professional but was unable to select anyone. “53 candidates appeared for the position last time but no one was finalised by the committee," a source aware of the development said.

The position also becomes crucial as Prasar Bharati is trying to solve challenges in manpower- a crucial part of revamping the finances and viewership of the organization. The broadcaster has released an RFP (request for proposal) through Broadcast Engineering Consultants India Ltd (Becil) and will soon be finalising a private agency to carry out the audit. 

“Such a crucial position should be headed by a professional. The ministry is trying to undermine the autonomy of the organisation," the source said.

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