Doordarshan will beam more smiles than frowns. In keeping with the government theme of projecting an India on the move, Prasar Bharati will depict a resurgent India or — as Prasar Bharati’s recently appointed Chief Executive Officer Baljit Singh Lalli says — get DD to “spin positives”.
In his first interview to the Hindustan Times after taking over, Lalli said DD’s recurring theme is to portray the good things that happen throughout the country. “We are a public broadcaster and it is our job to recapture and reflect the positive things that happen around us. There are good initiatives, feel good efforts and DD must focus on the happy face of India. I see Prasar Bharati as a social communicator without any parallel. Its sole function is to send out a positive message," he said.
Lalli isn’t worried about DD losing out to private channels. He wants DD to carve its own niche rather than struggle to keep up with private channels. “Doordarshan”, he said, “has a different mandate. I would neither like to compare it to private channels nor see them as competitors. DD has its own benchmark, which we need to sustain, strengthen and carry forward. Our content is different from private channels and this, to my mind, is DD’s greatest strength. Our job is to inform and educate the people of this country…about the social transformation that is taking place. Our job is also to entertain but it is entertainment with dignity rather than it being frivolous.”
Lalli denied that Prasar Bharati was in the government’s stranglehold. “But as a public broadcaster, DD’s role is to propagate the policies of the government”, Lalli said.
On the controversial issue of autonomy, he denied any move to revert to the original structure of DD and AIR being government organisations. Dismissing the debate on whether autonomy had failed to work for DD, Lalli said the “current dispensation (of autonomy) is good enough to perform our jobs as public broadcasters. We have the mandate of Parliament and it is our job to carry forward this mandate. I will not speculate on whether autonomy is good or not.”
Lalli preferred to play down his reputation of being a tough taskmaster. Ask him on rampant corruption in DD and whether he will crack the whip and he says: “Procedures will be transparent and guidelines for films selections and serials will be reworked. Cracking the whip is a strong word.”