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Action soon against cable operators not transmitting Doordarshan programmes

By Our Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD DEC. 28 . The Central Government is to amend the cable law within ten days to pave the way for the seizure of the equipment of cable operators who do not transmit Doordarshan programmes. The proposed changes in the law would enable officials of All India Radio and Doordarshan to function as judicial officers as far these offences are concerned, according to K.S.Sharma, chief executive officer, Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India).

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, he expressed concern that only six per cent of the Doordarshan programmes were being shown in small towns on the prime band by more than 70,000 cable operators in the country. The coverage was more in cities. Andhra Pradesh had 20,000 cable operators, the highest in the country. Violations of the law by cable operators was also the highest in the State.

"Telecast of programmes of public broadcaster should be treated as national pride, but unfortunately Doordarshan programmes are not being shown as required under the law on the prime band one to 12 channels because of `vested interests.' However, he did not name the vested interests.

Mr. Sharma admitted that the law was ineffective, as not even 200 cases had so far been filed against cable operators, although there was a provision for a fine of Rs.5,000 and five years imprisonment for violating the law.

Once the enactment was changed he expected at least 2,000 cases to be filed against the errant cable operators in three months. Under the present cable law, district magistrates/police commissioners/RDOs were empowered to register cases. But the prosecution was taking its own course.

According to the Prasar Bharati CEO, the 24 hour Doordarshan news channel, launched last month, has been adjudged second in viewership after `Aaj Tak', among the 15 news channels in the country.

Although it has been asked to mobilise a revenue of Rs. 2 crores by March 31 next, the channel had already achieved the figure. The target for the next year was fixed at Rs. 27 crores.

Mr. Sharma said 30 All India Radio artists with over 30 years of experience in classical and Hindustani fields had been selected to be honoured in connection with the completion of 75 years of broadcasting. Each artist is to be given a cash award of Rs. one lakh at a function likely to be held here next month. The date was yet to be finalised. Among the artists from Andhra Pradesh are M. Balamuralikrishna and N. Krishnamurthy.

He announced that under a new scheme to be taken up in the South, films would be screened on the Doordharshan on a 50-50 revenue sharing basis by anyone holding rights.

He expressed displeasure at the denial of opportunity to the Doordarshan to show good films because of the purchase of the rights from producers. This could be a fit case for restrictive trade practice.

He said the Prasar Bharati was making available news on phone numbers 1259 (English and Hindi) and 1258 (Telugu). The calls were being charged, but it would be possible to make them free by March 31 next.

The other "big" project being taken up was to make available `priceless material' in the archives to the people through cassettes and CDs.

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