Lok Sabha elections 2019: Prasar Bharati to get weekly report of political coverage
Last week, the Election Commission criticised the broadcaster for not giving adequate airtime to political parties other than the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.Updated: Apr 16, 2019 07:09 IST
Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati will seek a weekly report from its broadcast arms, Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) to verify whether the election commission’s directive to ensure “balanced coverage” for all recognised parties on their platforms is being followed. The first report is likely to be submitted by April 22, said an official aware of the developments.
According to the chief executive officer (CEO) of Prasar Bharati, Shashi Shekhar Vempanti, the report is likely to be shared with the poll body on a bi-weekly basis going forward.
Last week, the Election Commission criticised the broadcaster for not giving adequate airtime to political parties other than the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. Following a complaint by the Congress party, alleging bias by DD News while broadcasting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Main bhi chowkidar” programme for nearly an hour, the poll body issued a notice to DD News.
A report by the Director General, Doordarshan News on April 5, led the poll panel to conclude that the coverage was not in accordance with the model code of conduct that says the “misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity news and publicity regarding achievement with a view of furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided.”
A three-member committee set up by Prasar Bharati to oversee and plan coverage on DD and AIR also met for the first time on Monday. On how the EC’s instruction would be carried out, Vempanti said, the instruction to ensure fair coverage will be adhere to in news broadcasts and other formats including digital platforms. “We have sensitized the officials and course correction, if any required, will be taken,” he said. The committee comprises former Prasar Bharati official Dhirajan Malvey, consultant Smita Misra and Rahul Mahajan, CEO Rajya Sabha TV.
According to another person aware of development who asked not to be named, the channels will works out how to give “balanced coverage” to all the recognised national and regional parties.
“There will always be some disparity in coverage based on the rallies and other programmes that the parties organise. Besides, there is also the issue of news-value; bulletins with limited time span can cover only high-value issues,” this person added.
The official also said that comparing the airtime given to PM Modi as compared to his predecessor Manmohan Singh is “flawed” because the engagements of both leaders are not comparable.“The sheer number of PM Modi’s public engagements, foreign visits and broadcasts through programmes such as Mann ki Baat are more than those of Dr Singh. That in itself garners more airtime, so to compare the time given to coverage of the two leaders is not correct,” the official said.
First Published: Apr 16, 2019 07:09 IST