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Lifeline for radio, TV

Prasar Bharati has signed an MoU with Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in an attempt to turn around India’s public broadcasting service.

“When Mahatma Gandhi came to All India Radio, Delhi, to appeal to the public to stop the riots on November 12, 1947, he knew what tremendous reach the radio had…” Jawhar Sircar, the Prasar Bharati CEO, said at All India Radio on the occasion of Public Service Broadcasting Day on Monday.

Sircar said Prasar Bharati was making every possible effort to reach out to the world. “After an eight-year gap, it was recently elected to the topmost council of Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union that covers 58 countries with 200 broadcasters.”

The three-year contract with ABC is likely to benefit the broadcasting corporations of both countries in programming exchange, training and co-production. It will also make available Australian Network’s International Television Service to Doordarshan and allow ABC programmes on DD’s Direct-to-Home Satellite platform — giant steps for an organisation that seemed to have gone comatose several years ago.

The collaboration has also brought to India Oz Fest, Australia’s biggest cultural festival. Authors John Zubrzycki and Frané Lessac will visit Calcutta on November 17 as part of the fest. An Indo-Australian collaborative performance, Sagara Kanyaka — The Lady from the Sea, is to be staged at Science City on December 4 and 5.

Sircar is confident that Prasar Bharati can rake up its annual operational cost of Rs 2,000 crore. He hopes to generate revenue from the 2,000-plus Akashvani and Doordarshan Kendras and other installations by letting out space for ATMs and billboards. Simulcasting or simultaneous broadcast has also helped mop up funds.

Sircar, who inaugurated the first of AIR’s modern metro-servers and upgraded newsroom in Calcutta on Monday, said the state-of-the-art Digital Radio Mondiale would reach Chinsurah in three months.

Prasar Bharati plans to boost FM and revamp content of Akashvani’s FM channels. Recruitment is on the cards with nearly 3,500 posts sanctioned, including 1,150 for immediate recruitment.