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Prasar Bharti defies I&B ministry diktat, says won't hire 'costly' journos

Shreya Jai & Arindam Majumder/New Delhi 15 Feb 18 | 06:35 PM

Touting the directives of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (I&B) as contempt of the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990, the board of the public broadcaster declined all the directives given by the ministry.

The board withdrew the proposal made by the ministry to hire two journalists currently working with privately owned media houses. The board said the ministry has been pressurising the board to hire the two journalists but the problem is the compensation they have asked for in the range of Rs 7.5 million to 10 million.

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“The highest compensation paid to contractuals in Prasar Bharti is about Rs 160,000 per month. To jump from there to Rs 10 million a year therefore cannot be justified. The search committee would like good media professionals to be hired, the issue is the cost. We are a public corporation. Can we hire professionals at Rs 10 million?" said sources close to the development. 

With regards to the communication made by the ministry for terminating services of all contractual employees, the Board took strong exception to the wording of the letter as “It sought to question the wisdom of the Prasar Bharti board in regard to these appointments," said an official. He further said the Board was of the opinion that the ministry should withdraw the directives issued by the ministry as they are in contempt of the Act governing the body and the ministry also “seems to have forgotten that Prasar Bharti is an autonomous corporation."

The board also decided to withdraw another suggestion by the minsitry to have a serving IAS of I&B ministry as director (personnel) in the board of Prasar Bharti.

“The proposal mooted by the minsitry was dropped. The provisions of the PB Act would be violated and office of the Vice President would be denigrated," said the minutes.

Business Standard reported on Thrusday that discontent was 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 in 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 wanted to make an exception to it.

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