‘Saffronisation Of News’: Kerala CM’s Charge Against CentreFeb 28, 2023 | Pratirodh Bureau
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has accused the Centre of “saffronisation of news” by designating an allegedly Sangh Parivar-affiliated media agency as the sole news source of state-run broadcaster Prasar Bharati.
The Chief Minister was referring to the Centre’s decision to appoint Hindustan Samachar as the sole news source for Prasar Bharati which operates the Doordarshan TV network and Akashvani, also called All India Radio.
Vijayan contended, in a statement issued by the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), that appointing Hindusthan Samachar as the news source for the state-run broadcaster by terminating services of agencies like Press Trust of India (PTI) and United News of India (UNI) amounted to “saffronisation of news”.
He alleged that this was a move to bring Doordarshan and Akashvani into the folds of the Sangh Parivar and was therefore a threat to democracy.
Hindusthan Samachar was founded by RSS leader Shivram Shankar Apte, also the founder general secretary of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and it has always worked for the Sangh Parivar, Vijayan claimed in the statement. The Sangh Parivar has been trying to keep Prasar Bharati under its control ever since it came to power, he claimed further.
This, he said, was evident from the Centre’s 2020 decision to appoint Jagdish Upasana, the group editor of RSS publications Panchajanya and Organiser, as the chairman of Prasar Bharti’s recruitment board.
Besides that, Prasar Bharti showed live RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s Vijayadashami speech, but did not broadcast the Independence Day speech of the Chief Minister of Tripura, he claimed. All this indicates the implementation of the fascist desire that no voice of dissent should be heard, Vijayan alleged and urged the secular democratic society of the country to recognise and protest against this threat to democracy.
Prasar Bharati has inked an exclusive deal with Hindusthan Samachar on February 14, 2023, nearly two years after cancelling its subscription with PTI, The Wire reported.
Since 2017, Hindusthan Samachar has offered Prasar Bharati its wire services free of charge and on an ‘evaluation basis.’ However, now, the written agreement between the two parties states that Prasar Bharati will give Hindusthan Samachar close to Rs 7.7 crore over the course of two years, with payment terminating in March 2025. According to the deal, Hindusthan Samachar must offer Prasar Bharati with at least 100 news pieces every day, including at least 40 ‘local stories’ in regional languages and 10 national news items, The Wire stated in its report.
The Narendra Modi government’s recent bitter run-ins with news organisations PTI and UNI during the past few years preceded Prasar Bharati’s newest decision to legally induct Hindusthan Samachar.
Hindusthan Samachar, whose stated mission is to present news from a ‘nationalist’ perspective, was forced to close its doors in 1986 due to a financial crisis. The RSS, however, revived it in 2002 during AB Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister.
PTI is India’s premier news agency, with a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India. Collectively, they put out more than 2,000 stories and 200 photographs a day to feed the expansive appetite of the diverse subscribers, who include the mainstream media, the specialised presses, research groups, companies, and government and non-governmental organisations.
PTI correspondents are also based in leading capitals and important business and administrative centres around the world. It also has exchange arrangements with several foreign news agencies to magnify its global news footprint. Currently, PTI commands 90 per cent of new agency market share in India. PTI was registered in 1947 and started functioning in 1949.