he looks at you, spits on the floor, and says, ‘What do you want me to work for? I joined as a programme executive and I am retiring next month as a programme executive’. This is complete demoralisation. You can’t function with a force of 32,000. These are the pains of non-autonomy. Do you know there’s no term called radio jockey? Thirty years ago, the term didn’t exist, so we call them casuals. There is no Panel Control Room (PCR), no Camera Control Room (CCR), these terms didn’t exist, so they do not exist even now. I can’t explain to babus at the lower level that these are required. Give me recruiting powers, I will stick my neck out.
Coomi Kapoor: What you are saying is that the Prasar Bharati CEO is a figurehead?
Prasar Bharati can operate on a day-to-day basis, but should not get overtly ambitious about things like promotions.
Coomi Kapoor: You have no control over your staff?
No, I have control over my staff, minus promotions, recruitment and service conditions.
Shailaja Bajpai: How did Modi obtain the full video of the DD interview? He was the first one to release the part with Priyanka.
Till date, I have not found out whether there was a fourth camera. I was told in the report that there were three camera operators, they were cleaning up the external sounds. It appears there may have been a fourth camera, and it’s only when the full thing comes out that we will know. The point is that of judgment call — an editor takes a call, another group of senior editors makes a judgment.
D K Singh: With so many private channels, why should taxpayers pay for a public broadcaster?
It’s open to the taxpayer to take a call. If the wider issue is whether we need a public broadcaster, I would love to join the debate. There is need for a public broadcaster on another count. In Manipur, everyday we telecast in Manipuri, six major dialects and 23 minor dialects. That accounts for 30 lakh people, 30 broadcasts. In Manipur, that’s almost the only service available. In Kargil, there is only one person. There is just one person in Ziro, Arunachal Pradesh. We have a role in uneconomic routes. I would not go to illogical lengths to defend it, but look around the world, no one has given up public broadcasting. But it’s a thing that should be open to debate.
D K Singh: You talked about a discussion on balancing things out over Modi’s interview. Were you suggesting that you sought Rahul Gandhi’s interview and you didn’t get it?
I didn’t, the news channel boys did. A public broadcaster needs to balance out to the extent possible.
Shubhajit Roy: How many times do you get a call from a minister or bureaucrat to play down news?
This kind of request comes from everyone — ‘I am having a medical council meeting, I’m having an XYZ thing, would you like to have a look?’ I say, sure. I have not got (requests continued…