Govt targets PTI.

Govt targets PTI.

Prasar Bharati cuts ties with PTI; to invite fresh bids from ‘domestic news agencies’

National broadcaster one of biggest subscribers of PTI; over Rs 6.75 crore annually

Agency Report | New Delhi | 16 October, 2020 | 11:00 PM

Prasar Bharati (PB), supposedly an independent, ends its subscription to the Press Trust of India (PTI). And is going to invite from other domestic agencies which are clearly going to be more pro-government. The reason, it would seem is PTI’s allegedly “anti-national reporting”. It was triggered off by an interview of the Chinese ambassador the agency did about four months back and then follow it up with an interview of the Indian ambassador in Beijing, Vikram Misri. An official PTI tweet of the interview said: “India hopes China will realise its responsibility in de-escalation and disengaging by moving back to its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC): Indian envoy to China.” This clearly contradicted what Prime Minister \Narendra Modi had said when he claimed that no one “intruded across our border nor is anyone intruding”. It was then that the Prasar Bharati threatened withdrawing its subscription.

Prasar Bharati has ended its subscription of news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) and will now invite fresh proposals from other domestic news agencies, sources said.

PTI, the largest news agency of the country, is run by a Board comprising owners and proprietors of key newspaper groups and is a non-profit trust.

Prasar Bharati decided to end its “current ad-hoc pro-rata arrangement for the PTI subscription” four months after it was alleged that the agency’s coverage of India-China clash was unfair and not in sync with national interest.

The national broadcaster is one of the biggest subscribers of the agency, and it pays PTI over Rs 6.75 crore annually, sources said.

A letter to both PTI and UNI has been sent regarding this.

Sources said that Prasar Bharati will initiate a process of inviting fresh proposals from all the news agencies including PTI and UNI.

A controversy broke when the national broadcaster sent a letter threatening to end its “relationship” over the alleged “anti-national” reportage by news agency in June this year.

PTI had carried an interview with Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong, where he blamed India for the India-China violent standoff that saw 20 Indian bravehearts getting martyred.

Sources said a “strong letter” was sent to PTI just ahead of its Board meeting in June where the public broadcaster expressed “deep displeasure on anti-national reporting by PTI”. The public broadcaster had communicated that the PTI’s editorial stance makes it untenable to “continue the relationship”.

Government sources claim that the broadcaster had been “supporting PTI with huge financial fees” which often ran into several crores. This ad-hoc pro-rata arrangement has been going on for decades, claimed the source. However, it insisted that PTI has been “rigid” on review of the same since 2016-17. (IANS)