Private channels ignoring news content: PB chief

A-Surya-Prakash-PRCI-ConclaExpressing concern at the “inadequate’ self-regulatory mechanism within media, Prasar Bharati Chairman A. Surya Prakash has suggested that the Press Council must become a Media Council with adequate media representation and acquire more teeth.

Some of the private news channels have been creating noise during their prime time shows ignoring the news content. Viewers could now watch DD News or listen to All India Radio (AIR) is they were tired of the ‘noise channels’, he said and pointed out that “each and every Indian is a stake holder in Prasar Bharati since it depends on Union budgetary support – about Rs 2,100 crore out of its Rs 4,000-crore budget in the current financial year. Its own revenue generation was around Rs 1,650 crore as of now and with increased focus on internal revenue generation, this was expected to improve.

Surya Prakash, who is himself if a veteran journalist, was addressing an open session at the 9th Global Communication Conclave organized by the communication industry body Public Relations Council of India (PRCI) in the capital.

Earlier during a panel discussion on media and PR ethics, delegates expressed concern over the recent developments that led to unpleasant developments. Responding, Editors Guild general secretary Ajay Upadhyay said the entire media community need not be painted with the same brush just because of some perceived unethical practices. Most media houses do have gatekeepers in the form of strong news desks and editors to check the flow of the news into the newspapers and channels.

Veteran journalist K A Badarinathi, Editor-Poicy at Financial Chronicle, explained that media persons in general take adequate care while using tones of information that they get in the process of collecting the news.

During the two-day conclave that concluded on Saturday, communication professionals took part in panel discussions on media and PR ethics, CSR, financial inclusion, youth, technology and sexual harassment at workplace during the two-day Conclave ended on Saturday evening.

Rajan Mathews, Director General of Cellular Operators Association of India who delivered the keynote address, pointed out that misinformation is being spread on the so-called radiation effects from cell phone towers whereas there is no scientific evidence of such an impact. The mobile tower radiation emission standards that are being practiced in India are much more stringent than the western and European norms, he said.

Participating in a panel discussion on financial inclusion, former CMD of Canara Bank Rajiv Dubey said media should play a major role in increasing the financial literacy in the country, while Mr Shubhrangshu Neogi, Director and Head of Marketing & Brand-Religare emphacised the need to cut the jargon and simplify the flow of information to the masses. Financial services companies to need to involve PR machinery to educate the people about various plans and schemes and ensure inclusive growth, said Mohit Rochlani, CMO of IndiaFirst Life Insurance.

Based on the suggestions from speakers, PRCI has decided to launch an awareness drive for adopting ethical practices among public relations practitioners and conduct skill development programmes for professionals to understand the functioning of media and its information needs, Mr M B Jayaram – Chairman Emeritus and Chief Mentor of PRCI, said.

Surya Prakash said in his speech that the news packages on Doordarshan and All India Radio are being revamped to make them contemporary and appealing to the audience. The average age of employees at Prasar Bharati was 50 plus because of the absence of a Prasar Bharati Recruitment Board. There was need for fresh infusion of talent and therefore there was urgent need to have the recruitment boards in place.

Side by side, he explained, work was on to change the look and feel of the news channel and programmes and to get over the “Sarkari mindset” within the organization. “We have been working towards setting up a Prasar Bharati Recruitment Boards to work towards this goal,” he said to a question.

Prasar Bharati is also looking forward to a new rating agency as the present system of gauging TRPs is woefully inadequate. “Hopefully, once the new system is in place, we will have a more authentic gauge of our viewership and listenership” he said.

Prasar Bharati is also in the process of strengthening its social media presence. For instance, DD has 610,000 followers and AIR 510,000 on the twitter and this is not enough. “We need to take a big leap forward,” he said and pointed out that the Republic Day parade video has over two million hits on Youtube and “this is a pointer to the rewards one gets for quality programming”.

PRCI also felicitated PR professionals with Hall of Fame awards and presented the Chanakya Awards for exemplary performance.

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