18 Nov 2017
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Modi govt committed to press freedom: Venkaiah Naidu

MUMBAI: Information & Broadcasting (I&B) minister M Venkaiah Naidu has said that the Narendra Modi-led government is committed to the total freedom of press. At the same time, the minister added that disinformation is dangerous.

The minister’s comments come in the backdrop of the criticism faced by the Modi government on its handling of news broadcaster NDTV. Recently, the CBI had raided NDTV promoters Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy’s residence for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank. Denying the allegation, the news broadcaster said that the government is being vindictive against NDTV for not toeing the government line.

Earlier, the I&B ministry had handed over a one-day ban to NDTV India for its Pathankot terror attack coverage, which it claimed compromised the security of the country.

Naidu was talking at the Akashvani Annual Awards ceremony in which MoS I&B Col. Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Prasar Bharati chairman Surya Prakash, I&B secretary Ajay Mittal and Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar were also present.

Lauding All India Radio (AIR), Naidu claimed that in this era of cacophony when television channels, newspapers and social media platforms were vying for garnering the highest rating points by dishing out sensational and often unsubstantiated news, AIR still continued to be the first choice of the majority of the population for authentic news not only within the country but also for those Indians abroad who wanted to keep in touch with the happenings in their motherland.

Highlighting the diversity of AIR, Naidu said that, in terms of number of languages and dialects of broadcast, AIR is the world’s largest public service radio broadcaster.

Presently, AIR broadcasts in 23 languages and 179 dialects. All conceivable radio formats like music, plays, documentaries, features, interviews, talks, innovative programmes, news, etc. were used by AIR across its entire network comprising 421 broadcasting centres.

AIR, through its external broadcast in 15 foreign and 12 Indian languages, served as India’s authentic voice to the outside world and projected India’s viewpoint on contemporary issues in the right perspective in the face of propaganda by forces inimical to the country’s interest.

Referring to the challenges in the FM radio sector, Naidu said that the challenge for the content creator was manifold. It was important to make the content entertaining as well as utilitarian in order to maximise the listenership of the programme. The challenges before the technical think tank were also very daunting at a time when broadcast technology was changing every passing minute. With multiple media platforms and options available and emerging, technology become obsolete much faster now than before.

Emphasising the role of government communication, Naidu said that the agenda of the government was to create awareness about the development initiatives that could transform lives of people and fulfil the aspirations of the emerging new and young India.

‘Akashvani Annual Awards’ has been an annual feature since 1974 and remains one of the most prestigious and old awards in the arena of public service broadcasting in India. AIR has instituted these awards in the memory of those among its staff who laid their lives while waging relentless counter offensive through the medium of broadcasting against the forces inimical to the integrity and unity of India. While promoting healthy professional competition, these awards also promote creative excellence of the organisation by bringing out the best from the professionals working in various aspects of radio broadcast.

There are awards for different categories of programmes such as plays, documentaries, musical production, children’s choral singing, Lassa Kaul Award for National Integration, Yuva Vani, innovative programme, programmes on farm & home. There was also the Dr Rajendra Kumar Talib Award for best CBS centre.