° Doordarshan assigns a “heavy budget” Kashmiri serial to a producer, who neither knows nor understands the language. The project is worth Rs six crore.
° The court declares another hand picked DD producer a proclaimed offender. Despite having sufficient turnover, the producer has not paid his dues to DD.
° Against an upper limit of 13 episodes per serial for each producer, DD has given some contracts for 108 and even 260 episodes per serial.
° A "lobby of hawkers” has reportedly finalised deals at the behest of a Congress politician.
A fact-finding committee has said these are just a few instances of how Doordarshan officials have violated government criteria to squander huge amounts of money on programmes made for the Jammu and Kashmir channel. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had set up the committee to look into charges of embezzlement and corruption by the officials.
The Home Ministry funds the 24-hour “Kashmir Channel”, which was meant to employ local talent and reflect the ethnic and cultural fabric of Kashmir. The political reason was to counter Pakistani television propaganda, which still has many sympathisers on the Indian side of the border. A group of producers had complained to Congress president Sonia Gandhi about the irregularities in Doordarshan. At her direction, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi instituted the fact-finding committee.
The committee found that the “officials-producers nexus” had jeopardised fair play in awarding serials to private producers. Apart from the “hawkers lobby”, as the report called the middlemen, non-Kashmiris had hijacked most of the programmes. The report said it defeated the objective of local talent benefiting from the channel.
Following the report, Dasmunsi wants a new policy for the channel.He is expected to visit Srinagar later this month to announce, what the I&B Ministry is calling, a “festival bonanza” on the eve of Diwali and Id. Dasmunsi told HT: “Under the new policy, a 75:25 ratio will be maintained preferring local producers over outsiders”.
But it is not clear if the policy would redefine local talent. Within Doordarshan, there is resentment over Srinagar being sidelined in decisions taken for the Kashmir channel. Structurally, Delhi is the controlling authority and Srinagar provides the operational component. Plans are also underway to upgrade infrastructure and make the channel competitive. Currently, people of Jammu and Kashmir watch channels beamed from across the border and are influenced by the anti-India tirade. Kashmir channel’s technical step-up is aimed at weaning away this viewership.