CPI MP Binoy Viswam has written to Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar accusing the Prasar Bharti of making concerted efforts to close down government-financed radio and television channels, and said online mediums cannot be a substitute for them. In his letter, Viswam said it is a “privileged and misinformed” opinion that everyone can access Internet services efficiently at any time of the day.

Internet access varies with respect to financial, social and geographical context and these barriers should not be ignored. This “misinformed expectation” will leave a large number of people deprived of information and knowledge on regional affairs and cultures, he said. “I write this letter to bring to your attention a matter of immense importance that requires your urgent intervention. There has been a concerted effort by Prasar Bharti to close down government-financed means of information dispensation both at the regional and national level,” the CPI Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala claimed.

“The first such action was taken in 2017, where 769 television channels were closed down. Now, radio stations are being targeted similarly.” All India Radio currently has eight stations and 10 services in Kerala that provide a varied array of programmes from news to entertainment to the people, both in India and abroad, Viswam claimed. “However, the government now claims that it is no longer economical to run these operations. It is of the opinion that these means are substitutable by the information dispensation through Internet websites,” he said.

The CPI MP also pointed out that AIR services in Kerala are the most recent to be affected. “In a meeting of Prasar Bharti held on November 18, 2020, it has been decided that the programmes originating from Kerala will be drastically curtailed. This new move by Prasar Bharti is against this principle and its very motto of public service broadcasting,” he alleged. This will lead to a complete denial of opportunities for common people as well as artists of all sorts of the area to participate in various programmes and it may ultimately result in the closure of these stations, Viswam claimed.

“In light of this, I urge your immediate intervention in this matter and request you to roll back these recent decisions by Prasar Bharati that violates its own motto and principles. “On the contrary, actions should be initiated to protect and strengthen the identity of the AIR stations as the voice of the respective zones by providing adequate infrastructure and staff and replacing obsolete technology with new one,” he said.

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