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DD top jobs race hots up

New Delhi, Aug. 6: Public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati is set to run a recruitment drive to hire journalists for Doordarshan and All India Radio which are about to launch 24-hour news channels. But lobbying for the top posts has begun as Prasar Bharati gears up to compete with private news channels in an election year.

The finance ministry has in principle sanctioned Rs 85 crore for Doordarshan to re-start a 24-hour news channel. DD Metro will be shut down to make way for it.

Prasar Bharati sources said the channel should begin to telecast within three months from the disbursement of funds and indicated that the launch could be either in November or in January.

A former Doordarshan news anchor, who subsequently worked for BJP president M. Venkaiah Naidu when he was rural development minister, is said to be in the running for the top job as DD News head.

At present, Doordarshan’s news services are headed by additional director-general Swagat Ghosh, a senior Indian Information Service officer. K. Thlanthanga, deputy director-general, heads DD Metro.

In the normal course of things, Ghosh would be expected to head the 24-hour news channel.

There are others in the running for the post, too, apart from the former aide to Naidu who is also connected to a family close to the BJP leadership. The former Naidu aide’s appointment would be deeply resented by the IIS cadre.

Others lobbying to be associated with DD News at the managerial level include two foreign correspondents for All India Radio, one serving and the other retired. Both are believed to be lobbying for appointment as a consultant to DD News, as are an independent television producer and anchor.

In the run-up to the launch of the DD News channel, transfers of senior officers to key posts is likely. Doordarshan director-general S.Y. Quraishi, too, has been tipped to move on to other responsibilities.

The post for Washington correspondent, which is likely to fall vacant shortly, is among the most prized and a former Doordarshan deputy director-general now serving with another ministry is said to be in the running.

Prasar Bharati chief executive officer K.S. Sarma said All India Radio was likely to begin a 24-hour news channel on short wave.

Its feasibility, however, has not yet been entirely convincing to the information and broadcasting ministry. Prasar Bharati has pointed out that “spare capacity” was available on short wave but this was not user-friendly because it does not assure clearly audible broadcasts.

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