Wed, 27 Jan 2021

New Delhi [India], Delhi [India], December 9 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to treat as a representation plea seeking to resume all channels, stations, services and units of All India Radio (AIR) discontinued during the Covid-19 pandemic.

With these directions, a division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan disposed of the public interest litigation filed by All India Radio Casual Announcers and Comperes Union and AIR Broadcasting Professionals Association.

The PIL, filed by through advocate Akash Vashishtha, was moved against the closing down of the National Channel of All India Radio and its Regional Academies at Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Shillong and Thiruvananthapuram, without conducting any assessment.

The plea sought directions to the Centre and Prasar Bharti to resume all channels, stations, services and units of AIR mentioned in the present petition and those closed, stopped or discontinued during the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, with immediate effect.

It sought directions to compensate the contractual casual announcers, radio jockeys, presenters and comperes serving in AIR's stations, and those closed in the past six months, for the loss of work and wages they suffered since the closure of their channels/stations/services/units.

"The instant plea also raises the manifestly arbitrary, irrational and unreasonable shutting down of some of the most popular Channels/Services of the All India Radio such as the DTH, AIR World Service (Nepali, Russian, Arabic, Swahili, English, Hindi, etc.), Indraprastha Channel and Rajdhani Channels from the designated studios, using Covid-19 as a garb," the plea said.

It alleged that the Prasar Bharati, in a virtual abuse of power, has further arbitrarily and irrationally halted the broadcasting services from the AIR Chhatarpur, AIR Shahdol and AIR Betul stations.

"Some of the strategically important, flagship popular channels such as the AIR World Services have been delinked from the main studios and instead run as small-time programmes on YouTube channels that are of foreign origin," the plea said.

"The programmes run on YouTube are not only inferior in quality but are also critically low on viewership. Further, YouTube is a service run by foreign agencies that may change its terms and conditions at any time and may cease to operate at any moment. In such an event, AIR will have no means to keep records of its broadcast materials intact, it added. (ANI)

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