The Union ministry of information and broadcasting plans to hive off as many as 14 regional language units from the All India Radio (AIR) headquarters in the Capital to states where the languages are spoken.
The ministry feels the language skills of its regional language newscasters has dulled as they have been living in Delhi for decades. The shifting of the language units will ensure they get the pronunciation and the nuance just right.
“Apart from non-availability of an adequate number of qualified news readers cum translators (NRTs), there is also the problem of NRTs settled in Delhi for decades having lost the essence of their mother tongue and their spoken language is not similar to what is spoken in the region,” a source told HT.
The plan, which was first discussed in 2004 by the Prasar Bharati board, will be executed in a phased manner and has been conceived to give news bulletins in regional languages an “authentic flavour”. Prasar Bharati is an autonomous wing of the ministry, which has AIR and Doordarshan as its broadcast arms.
“There have been several rounds of discussion on the issue over time, but for now it has been put on hold. A review will be carried out of the existing services in a year’s time from now, following which a decision will be taken,” a source explained.
On the rationale behind the move, the source said, based on feedback that the regional news presentation is not quite up to the mark, the ministry decided to shift the production and presentation to the states where the languages are spoken for accuracy in pronunciation and translation.
News collected by AIR is drafted in English and then translated into various Indian languages.
The proposal mooted by the ministry has identified Assamese, Malayalam and Tamil units that will be shifted out of Delhi in the first phase. There are no regular news readers cum translators for these languages. Most of these units are run by casual and contractual workers.
“The idea is not to cut jobs, but to bring more authenticity in language and fresh inputs to the programming,” the source said.
Relocating these regional units is part of the larger ‘restructuring’ plan under way.
In August last year, the ministry took a decision to shut down regional language units at several stations, but it was put on hold after it was opposed by Prasar Bharati. Several members of Parliament also approached the ministry to revisit the order.
Last year, the ministry announced the closure of 19 offices attached to the Registrar of Newspapers for India (RNI), Press Information Bureau (PIB) and AIR