The tussle between public broadcaster Prasar Bharati and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry refuses to cease. In the latest development, the adviser to the Prasar Bharati chairman has resigned as the I&B ministry refused to accept his extension.

Sources said Sai Srinivas, an adviser to the Prasar Bharati chairman resigned recently after the Ministry sent a dissent note on his extension request. Officials said the Prasar Bharti Board was informed about the development in a meeting on Monday. The Prasar Bharati is a statutory autonomous body established under the Prasar Bharati Act and came into existence in 1997.

Officials said  ‘right-sizing’ of the public broadcaster was also one of the issues in the Board meeting and this would continue further.  A ministry official said trimming of high-paid staff has been a part of the Centre’s attempt to bring down the operating cost of the public broadcaster.

This is not the first time that tussle has taken place between the public broadcaster and the Information and broadcasting ministry. Earlier, the Prasar Bharati had turned down the ministry’s request for the appointment of senior journalists Abhijit Majumder and Siddharth Zarabi as head of TV News verticals. It was also said the cash-strapped Prasar Bharati was not in a position to pay high salaries to the two senior journalists.

Among other topics, the Monday’s Board meeting also witnessed a discussion on the review of DD Free Dish policy. Officials said that the Prasar Bharati will send a report to the Information and Broadcasting ministry soon. Earlier, the public broadcaster was asked to explain why it was not reviewing its Free Dish programme. The ministry believes it has benefited mostly the private channels and brought recurring liability to the government.

The DD Free Dish is a free-to-air digital direct broadcast satellite television service owned and operated by Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan or DD). Currently, there are 72 TV channels on Free Dish and reaches around 22 million households. The New Indian Express