Twenty-one Doordarshan and 12 Akashvani (All India Radio) stations went off air due to a 48-hour ‘duty boycott’ resorted to by 2,000 employees of state-run broadcaster Prasar Bharati from 9 am on November 23, 2010, as part of a nationwide strike.
The strike is spearheaded by the National Federation of Akashvani and Doordarshan Employees (NFADE), a body has the affiliation of 21 service associations and has under its wings a total of 38,000 employees across Akashvani and Doordarshan. The strike is meant to draw attention to various issues faced by the workers under Prasar Bharati’s reign of 12 years. Through NFADE, employees hope to successfully revoke the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 and see changes in the statute and timely payment of wages.
Day one of the strike saw up to “95 per cent of AIR and 60 per cent of Doordarshan centres not functioning”, PN Bhakta, General Secretary, AIR and Doordarshan Engineers Association, told the media. Broadcasters suffered interruptions in their services with almost their entire technical staff on strike. Even though AIR had journalists and anchors on duty, no bulletin was aired after 10 am due to technical disruptions.
Apart from the financial issues, NFADE is critical of Doordarshan and the Prasar Bharati top management for disregarding its demands in 2009 to purchase HD television equipment and letting employees of Doordarshan manage the Commonwealth Games 2010 broadcast independently. Officials have expressed views of reverting to a scenario where the Information and Broadcasting Ministry takes over, rendering the two broadcasters autonomous and free from the control of Prasar Bharati.