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Help DD, AIR go blank as 38,000 staffers strike
<img style="margin: 0 0 0 10px; float: right;" src=""/>Audiences across the country were caught unawares as national and regional stations of Doordarshan and All India Radio went on a blink or ran old programmes on Tuesday following a sudden strike by 38,000 Prasar Bharati employees.

What’s surprising is that the staffers, who have announced a 48-hour stir, are not agitating over work-related issues, but against Prasar Bharati CEO B S Lalli’s alleged involvement in the Commonwealth Games broadcast mess. They have also demanded the repeal of the PB Act. The National Federation of Akashvani and Doordarshan Employees is backed by 21 organizations, including camerapersons, engineers and producers. With most employees striking work, the broadcaster had to depend on contract employees.

The situation was the same at AIR where all commercial channels were off air and only one channel — 102.6 Mhz — ran old songs.

Even as union members demanded I&B minister Ambika Soni’s intervention, the ministry expressed its concern at the state of affairs. PB CEO B S Lalli did not respond to calls or text messages.

NFADE chairman Anilkumar S said the PB Act should be repealed and instead financial restructuring and staff issues should be looked at in a comprehensive manner. He blamed the CEO for the CWG mess. “PB has cheated the nation. PB officials promised people a high definition revolution and then chose to outsource everything to a foreign firm. Now, we are saddled with a Rs 290 crore debt,” he said.

Union members added that they had submitted a proposal for DD broadcasting the Commonwealth Games at lower costs but it was ignored by PB and the I&B ministry.

Veteran commentator Jasdev Singh, who has worked with DD for over 35 years, said the employees’ demand was justified. “PB has failed in its role to provide public service, education and entertainment as was envisaged. Successive PB chiefs have messed up the system because they thrive on cronyism and discourage talent,” he said.

Lalli has been at the centre of the controversial broadcast deal that was awarded to UK-based firm SIS Live. There is evidence that suggests that despite knowing SIS Live was an illegal entity with no regular service tax number, PB cleared payments. There were also several violations to the contract signed between PB and SIS including advance payment of 70% instead of the pre-determined amount of 30%.

Incidentally, UK broadcaster BBC was also held hostage recently and regular programming was suspended with employees striking work over pensions. “The problems with PB have been allowed to fester for several years due to political interference and are likely to go on until systemic changes are made,” a former PB administrator said.


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Mera bharat mahan - strike, everywhere - for everything!!!!:hammer:
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