New Delhi : Employees of All India Radio and Doordarshan Tuesday went on a 48-hour strike to press their demand for repeal of the Prasar Bharati Act, bringing operations of the state-run radio and television channels to a standstill all over the country.
The strike called by the National Federation of Akashvani and Doordarshan Employees (NFADE), an umbrella body of 21 service associations of around 38,000 employees of the two broadcast agencies, started 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Almost 1,000 employees are staging a sit-in at the All India Radio building on Sansad Marg and the Doordarshan office at Mandi House here, secretary general of NFADE Kulbhushan Bhatia told IANS.
“All over the country, 90 percent of the stations are off the air as of now. Doordarshan is showing dry tapes, while on DD National they are airing movies,” Bhatia said.
The NFADE has been organising a series of agitation programmes to “save” the national broadcaster.
“When the Prasar Bharati Act was brought, it was not discussed in parliament, now that they are bringing an amendment to the bill, major concerns like financial viability are still not addressed,” Bhatia said.
The Prasar Bharati Amendment Bill, 2010, tabled in the Rajya Sabha during the monsoon session provides for recognising all the employees who have joined from the day of formation of the Prasar Bharati – on Nov 23, 1997 – till Oct 5, 2007, to be given the facilities of government employees.
“The employees are not getting salaries on time. Moreover, what about those who have joined after Oct 5, 2007. The most important issue of financial viability is not at all addressed even in the amendment,” he said, adding, “There are provisions that the Prasar Bharati can dispose of AIR and DD; they will sell it.”
Bhatia maintained that no attempt has been made by the information and broadcasting ministry to start a dialogue with the striking employees.
“The minister (Ambika Soni) is not well and the secretary is busy,” he said.
Formed on Nov 23, 1997, as an autonomous body by the Prasar Bharati Act, the national broadcaster has ever since been under disputes with employees continuously persisting with their demand for repealing the act.
AIR, with 336 broadcasting centres, and DD with a network of 60 production centres and 1,404 transmitters, serve 99.13 and 94 percent of the country’s population.