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DD picks cricket, gets House stick

New Delhi, Dec. 2: Speaker Somnath Chatterjee today summoned Prasar Bharati CEO K.S. Sarma and Doordarshan director-general Navin Kumar to his chamber and reprimanded them for telecasting the India-South Africa Test yesterday instead of question hour in Parliament.

Chatterjee, furious that the decision was taken without consulting him, reminded them of their responsibility as a public service broadcaster and warned the officials not to repeat the mistake and take the House for granted.

Sarma, House sources said, offered an unconditional apology. Chatterjee said he was granting 'conditional pardon'.

I&B ministry sources said the CEO was worried about the loss of revenue if the Test was not telecast. The cricket board would have sued DD for Rs 80 crore, a source said.

The Speaker, the source added, was not satisfied. He wondered why the DD officials didn't remember the practice of live telecast of question hour and zero hour and the dates of the winter session while drafting the agreement.

Members ask listed questions in question hour. It is followed by zero hour, when they can raise issues they think are of public concern.

After the United Progressive Alliance came to power, Chatterjee took an initiative for live telecast of zero hour too.

His attempts to run the House seriously seemed to have had an impact today. After yesterday's pandemonium, the House, by and large, functioned smoothly.

Under the earlier governments, the presiding officers and some parties were not open to live telecast of zero hour because that is when most of the unruly scenes take place.

Chatterjee overruled critics, arguing that if reporters and visitors can view the proceedings, the entire nation should see what lawmakers do in the House. Subsequently, zero hour was televised.

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