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"There is no decision to stop local content being produced in Silchar, it will continue": Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi S. Vempati

Yesterday afternoon, Doordarshan Kendra Silchar stopped transmitting local content in the timeslot reserved for respective Programme Generating Facility. The head of programme, DDK Silchar said that she has received official communication from the Guwahati Kendra to “Stop transmitting local programmes and start telecasting the state channels.” The head of programme said, after receiving the communication, DDK Silchar stopped transmitting local programmes.

This resulted in an outburst of emotion in Barak Valley where most of the people speak Bengali, Manipuri, Hmar while the DDK Guwahati broadcasts programmes largely in Assamese. This decision was interpreted as wrath against the linguistic minorities in Assam.

In a feature story published by Barak Bulletin (Read Here), former Prasar Bharati CEO, Jawhar Sircar (IAS) criticised the decision to stop local programming. In the same story, experts highlighted the importance of Doordarshan Kendra Silchar and emphasised how it plays a vital role in exhibiting local art and culture.

Reacting to the story, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said, “There is no decision to stop local content being produced in Silchar and it  will continue.”

Speaking exclusively to Barak Bulletin, the CEO added, “People have misinterpreted the instructions that were given. There was no such order issued by us which mandated the Doordarshan Kendra Silchar to stop projecting local content.”

Soon after the news broke, a cloud of uncertainty started looming large over the employees in Doordarshan Kendra Silchar about their future. The CEO also made that clear as he shared, “Nobody is shutting any office.”

He suggested that before making comments that spur unnecessary controversies, one must seek clarifications if they have failed to interpret the order properly.

“I have personally taken a meeting in this regard via web conferencing this morning and instructed both teams (DDK Silchar and Guwahati) to ensure there is better coordination and to seek clarifications when in doubt rather than create an unnecessary controversy.”

Shashi Shekhar Vempati added, “Necessary clarifications and guidance have been given to DD in both Guwahati and Silchar.”

When we reached out to the Head of Programme in Silchar for a comment on her video conference with the Prasar Bharati CEO, she refused to divulge any details. On asked if the DDK Silchar, as suggested by the CEO, will start telecasting local programmes, she replied, “Time will tell.”

As per sources in the Doordarshan Kendra Silchar, the CEO referred to Barak Bulletin’s report during the meeting and asked the head of programme for an explanation. The CEO then made it clear that the Prasar Bharati will write a letter to the DDK Silchar explaining the particulars of the order issued by Directorate General of Doordarshan. “The head of programme said that after receiving the letter, DDK Silchar will start telecasting local programmes again like earlier,” said the source close to the development. Adding, “The head of programme was also questioned about the letter she said she has received which ordered DDK Silchar to stop local production. The head of programme could not furnish such letters.”

For now, the ones protesting in front of DDK Silchar can take a step back as the CEO confirmed, “Production of the local programmes will continue in Silchar.”

Edited By: Anirban Roy Choudhury

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