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DUJ and NAJ Call out Prasar Bharti Over Replacing PTI With Hindustan Samachar

The government has been phasing out PTI and UNI since it came to power in 2014; more patronage has been provided to RSS-backed Hindustan Samachar.
representational use only image courtesy wikimedia commons

Representational use only / Image courtesy : wikimedia commons

The National Alliance of Journalists (NAJ ) and the Delhi Union of Journalists (DUJ) have expressed grave concern at the virtual capture of India's Prasar Bharati by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) through its news agency, Hindustan Samachar.

Prasar Bharti runs both Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR). Recently, it decided to replace the national news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) with Hindustan Samachar for supplying news to the two national broadcasters.

In their joint statement, NAJ and DUJ called the move a calculated decision aimed at reducing the significance of PTI and the United News of India (UNI).

"It will saffronise news in India to suit the ruling party and kill neutral and independent journalism. Hindustan Samachar was born in 1948 to manufacture consent in favour of the RSS ideology, which dominates in the current ruling dispensation," the statement read.

RSS spokesperson Shivram Shankar Apte was the man behind Hindustan Samachar; he started the organisation in 1948 along with RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar.

Both Doordarshan and AIR employ correspondents in various parts of India; however, a bulk of their national and foreign coverage used to come from PTI and UNI. That started to change in a phased manner since NDA came to power in 2014. The government attempted to dictate terms to PTI and UNI. More importantly, Hindustan Samachar became a regular beneficiary of government advertisements.

"Prasar Bharti's subscription to PTI has been stopped. UNI has been deliberately neglected, its finances are in disarray, and many journalists have lost their jobs while some are working for a pittance."

SK Pande, President of NAJ, Sujata Madhok, General Secretary of DUJ, and N Kondaiah, Secretary General of NAJ, said that these decisions "constitute another challenge to the secular and democratic polity."

"The move to give it the role of primary news supplier to the nation will further saffronise, communalise and polarise Indian society and politics. It constitutes a grave danger to political parties in opposition to the ruling party, too," the journalists' bodies said.

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