New Delhi: Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar Saturday said he intends to restructure Prasar Bharati along the lines of BBC by augmenting its “editorial freedom” and its “internal control over manpower”.
“I am considering appointing a professional editor-in-chief to head Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) and the individual will have full freedom to cover the news as he or she thinks fit,” Javadekar told Headlines Today television news channel in an interview.
The 63-year-old Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that “philosophically” and “ideologically” he believed that there was no need for a ministry for information and broadcasting in a democracy.
“Philosophically and ideologically I believe there is no need for a ministry for information and broadcasting in a democracy. The prime minister (Narendra Modi) agrees with this, and my long term aim is to work towards making the ministry redundant,” Javadekar said.
He said there will be “no interference of any sort” in the running of Doordarshan and AIR in the next five years.
“Doordarshan and AIR would be free to interview any political leader they want, ask whatever questions they deem fit and handle the content of the interview in whatever professional way they want,” Javadekar said, alluding to a recent controversy when Doordarshan was accused of “editing” Modi’s interview during the election campaign.
The minister also promised that FM radio channels will be granted permission to start their own news broadcast before the end of the year.
Javadekar, who was recently misquoted as saying that he was in favour of FDI in news media, clarified that any decision in allowing FDI would be made after “consulatations with stake holders”.
“Personally, I am against 100 percent FDI in news media because I don’t think a dominant foreign hand in this sensitive area would enhance India’s interests,” said Javadekar, whose name is doing the rounds for nomination to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya Pradesh.
On the question of repealing Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, which has been used to prosecute publishers of books, Javadekar said he would be “happy to meet all publishers to remove their fear of prosecution”.
He further assured artists of “tolerance” and “freedom”.
“All artists, authors and journalists who fear that under this government, there could be intolerance of difference and dissent, I would like to say that this would not happen,” Javadekar said.