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Delhi HC says plea against closure of AIR national channels, stations by Prasar Bharati should be treated as representation

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The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre, Prasar Bharati and All India Radio to treat a plea as a representation by “All India Radio Casual Announcer & Comperes Union & Anr.” alleging closure of national channels/stations and delinking of vital public broadcast services by Prasar Bharati. 

The petition on Wednesday was listed before the bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan. The Court ordered that the present plea should be treated as a representation in accordance with law. Rights of the petitioner reserved to approach the court in case he is not satisfied, it sSaid. 

The petition had been moved by All India Radio Casual Announcers and Comperes Union and AIR Broadcasting Professionals Association, inter alia, against the arbitrary closure of National Channel (the only national public broadcasting of the state), its 5 regional academies and several other broadcast and relay stations of All India Radio, including the strategic World Services. 

Akash Vashishtha, Advocate and Counsel for the Petitioners, submitted that and said National Channel and other Broadcast services have been shut down arbitrarily and irrationally. 

“The Prasar Bharati is under a duty under Prasar Bharati Act, 1990, to organise and conduct public broadcast. The World Services have been delinked from the studios and instead shown as small time You Tube programmes, which were much inferior in quality,” he told the court. 

“As compared to BBC and CNN, which draw lakhs of viewers and likes, the World Services of AIR are not able to hold even 20 viewers from across the world,” Vashishtha argued. 

“That the act of shutting down of the Vital broadcast services and stations of the All India Radio further infringes upon a Citizen’s Right to Know and be informed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India,” said the plea. 

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“The Public Broadcast is essential to be resumed for achieving the security of the state and maintaining sovereignty and territorial integrity of the State. The only source of livelihoods of around 500 casual and contractual Radio artists has been lost because of the aforesaid arbitrary exercise and abuse of power of the respondents,” the plea further argued.  

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