The Prasar Bharati is deeply anguished by news agency PTI coverage in recent times and is considering withdrawing financial support to the latter over their recent coverage. OpIndia has learnt from reliable sources that Prasar Bharati is greatly displeased with what has been described as ‘anti-national’ reporting.
PTI has been receiving huge fees from the public broadcaster, the fees are said to be in crores and it has been going on since decades. Reportedly, Prasar Bharati pays PTI over RS. 9 crores annually, which is in addition to the amount paid by PIB. Now, sources tell us that PTI’s ‘anti-national’ reporting makes Prasar Bharati believe that it does not make it feasible to carry forward the said relationship.
It is interesting to note that PTI gets crores from the Prasar Bharati ever since its inception. Currently, Prasar Bharati pays PTI approximately 9.15 crores, OpIndia has leant.
Further, sources from Prasar Bharati have confirmed to OpIndia that since 2016-2017, Prasar Bharati is trying to rationalise the amount paid to PTI as it does not think that the service provided by PTI is worth more than Rs. 2.5 crores.
In 2017-18, Prasar Bharati had rationalised the amount paid to PTI and unilaterally reduced the amount paid to PTI by about 25%. However, sources confirm that it is just the tip of the iceberg and there is a long way to go before the fees are rationalised to Rs. 2.5 crores.
Another aspect that came to the fore was that despite paying crores to PTI by Prasad Bharati, the latter does not even have a seat at the board. Largely, PTI runs from public money, however, a look at their Board of Directors reveals how it mostly runs as a private news agency.
Following are the boards members of PTI:
For PTI to run largely on public money and have no representative of Prasar Bharati does seem out of sync with how such institutions should run and this has been a bone of contention between Prasar Bharati and PTI for long.
The Rs. 9.15 crore figure was arrived at in 2013-14, in the last year of UPA 2 government. Before that, PTI was being paid Rs. 8.44 crores by Prasar Bharati. In fact, just two years before, in 2010-2011, the amount paid to PTI was 7.04 crores. The feed paid to PTI has been an incremental increase and it is now the first time that Prasad Bharati has been trying to rationalise the amount since 2016-17.
The PTI, however, by going rogue is doing itself no favours. PTI had come under great criticism recently after an interview with Chinese ambassador Sun Weidong. During the interview, the Chinese ambassador blamed India for the clash between the two countries at Galwan Valley. Journalists of other agencies were outraged by the fact that the PTI did not bother to counter-question the Chinese ambassador on his dubious claims. People have also pointed out that the ‘interview’ came across as a press released by the Chinese Communist Party rather than a genuine interview.
By peddling the Chinese propaganda and going rogue as far as its content is concerned, PTI stands to lose the crores that it earns from the public broadcaster.
Prasar Bharati is India’s largest public broadcasting agency. It is a statutory autonomous body set up by an Act of Parliament and comprises the Doordarshan Television Network and All India Radio, which were earlier media units of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
With Prasar Bharati being a public broadcaster, it is obvious that such blatant anti-India propaganda which goes against the government of India and its stand in sensitive issues like the China conflict will not sit well.