Arun Bhatnagar likely to become Prasar Bharati chairman

Retired bureaucrat Arun Bhatnagar is all set to become the new chairman of Prasar Bharati Board, replacing M V Kamath. Bhatnagar had been the secretary of the National Advisory Council that ceased to exist recently.

A retired Madhya Pradesh cadre IAS officer of 1966 batch, Bhatnagar is said to be close to the Congress party. While an official announcement is yet to be made, sources confirmed that Prasar Bharati has been informed of the new appointee.

Kamath, an NDA appointee, was retained as Prasar Bharati chairman by the UPA when it came to power. However, Kamath had been in news for some time now for refusing to heed Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli on inducting fellow IAS officers in All India Radio and Doordarshan. In fact, on January 11, the Board blocked the move to provide professionals in radio and TV as recommended by a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

On January 24, days before the Parliament session began the Cabinet approved an ordinance to amend the Prasar Bharati Act, fixing the upper age limit for board members at 70 years. The Act, as it stands now, does not fix any age for the chairman but provides him a six-year stint. On March 17, the UPA Government successfully got the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Amendment Bill, 2008 passed by the Lok Sabha. Kamath had to resign soon after, amidst allegations in the House of mala fide intentions and attempts to influence Doordarshan and All India Radio. However, the government denied that its move was about "one man" with Priyaranjan Dasmunsi saying the amendment was not to "insult or humiliate chairman". Giving reasons for getting an ordinance promulgated, Dasmunsi said: "In August 2008, we are having Commonwealth Youth Games in Pune for which the Prasar Bharati has been chosen as the dedicated host broadcaster. With all regards to current incumbents, we felt that you cannot get a professional and competent CEO if you seal his age limit at 62 years."

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