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Tabs on Lok Sabha channel ‘forced’ Ghose to quit
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
Lok Sabha Television's chief executive officer Bhaskar Ghose’s recent resignation is suspected to have been triggered off by a communication from the Lok Sabha secretariat.

The communication, sent a month back by the Lok Sabha secretariat to the CEO, directed the channel to seek the secretariat’s approval for panelists or participants in its political programmes.

Left with no choice but to follow the “he who pays the piper calls the tune” aphorism, the channel has started presenting to the secretariat the names of participants in such programmes in advance.

Insiders in Lok Sabha Television insist that it is this note that might have provoked their CEO to tender his resignation three months before the end of his tenure. But the LS secretariat would like the viewers to believe that there is no connection between the annoying note and the CEO's resignation.

Lok Sabha secretary-general P.D.T. Achary told The Tribune that the note was preceded by a discussion in the LS secretariat on “aberrations in some political programmes”.

Denying that the communication directed the channel to have all programmes approved by the secretariat, Achary said, “We found that some political programmes were not balanced in their presentation. This goes against the channel's editorial policy, which seeks to ensure that all shades of opinion are represented. The annual expenditure of the channel is met by the LS budget. We cannot afford a scenario where only one-sided views are presented on an issue”.

The secretary-general said, “I don't link the note with the resignation of Ghose. I would like to clarify that the note only said that so far as the political programmes are concerned, we must know the participants so that we can apprise the Speaker. We would know that there is a chance of a balanced presentation of view”.

Achary said, “That is the only approval that is required. Otherwise, we have never made any demands from the channel in its day-to-day functioning”. Defenders of media freedom say that the note is offensive and undemocratic as it reflects the intolerance of the secretariat to other shades of opinion.

Though Ghose dismisses queries on any formal communication from the LS secretariat as a controversy imagined by some persons and insists that he put in his papers in preference to a quieter life at 70, the insiders suggest that there is more to it than what meets the eye.

Both Ghose and the LS secretariat have denied any interference from the LS Speaker in the functioning of the 24-hour channel. The catch, however, lies in the version of a senior officer of the LS secretariat who asserted that the secretary-general was well within his right to keep tabs on the channel.

Ghose, who will be relieved from the job in May end, claimed that Speaker Somnath Chatterjee was not willing to accept his resignation. “The Speaker has never interfered with the functioning of this channel. I have been solely on my own in deciding what to put out. He has never laid down the law or programme content,” he added.



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