Saturday, Nov 22, 2014

‘If I knew there’s been no promotion for 30 years, no equipment for 20 years, I would not have taken up this job’

Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar
Written by Archna Shukla | Posted: May 25, 2014 12:03 am

fortune of meeting him. Then I met him in the public fora.

Raj Kamal Jha: What was his feedback?
He appeared to be open. He is ill, and unavailable.

D K Singh: What happened to DD’s international project?

DD International is a limping channel. We get Rs 3-4 crore against a minimum of Rs 2,000 crore. I wanted a honeycomb model. Which means if Zee has penetrated some countries, let’s piggyback on Zee instead of trying to do it ourselves. If NDTV has made a pitch somewhere, let’s piggyback. After all, NDTV and others came piggybacking on us.

Kaunain Sheriff*: What’s happened to the modern equipment procured during the CWG?
It’s very rarely used.

Shubhajit Roy: You worked with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the culture secretary when he held the portfolio. What was your impression of his decisiveness in the ministry? As Prasar Bharati CEO battling autonomy issues, have you ever written to the PM, with whom you share an equation, or the President?

I don’t know whether I share equations. I worked with them at a junior level. Culture accounts for little bits of chicken feed, small amounts. I’d like to think that he is tolerant. I have not reported to him on these, because I don’t blame the minister for everything. Micro management is not the function of a government.

D K SINGH: There’s an impression that your stint as cultural secretary got you close to the Gandhi family and was instrumental in your appointment as the Prasar Bharati CEO.
Prasar Bharti CEO is selected through a process. I was told by the only person I interacted with — Ms Ambika Soni — in one interview that they wanted somebody to clean up the place.

Raj Kamal Jha: Much of what you are facing now, did you know about it when you took up the job?

If I knew half of it, I wouldn’t have taken up the job. If I knew that there’s been no promotion for 25-30 years, no equipment for 20 years, I would not have taken up this job.

Archna Shukla: Do you think the government is callous? Didn’t your predecessors care at all? Is it a systemic failure or is it about individuals?

For 17-18 years, this has been remote-controlled by the I&B Ministry in the form of additional secretaries. I have two predecessors, one I have never met and the other, whom I have met, is Mr B S Lalli. I will not make any public judgment about them. I have two years and a few months left. You require quite some time to make a breakthrough, provided the questions that you raised are answered — Do you need a public broadcaster in this form? Do you need a public broadcaster only for remote areas? Do you need a broadcaster to contend with external broadcasts? Do you need a broadcaster who becomes a carriage provider rather than a content provider? Do you need a broadcaster who sells content off to the last mile?

D K Singh: Do you get bothered by paid news?

No. I wish we continued…

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