NEW DELHI: Public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati has terminated its subscriptions of news agencies Press Trust of India and United News of India (UNI), raising questions in certain quarters over whether the move was connected to unhappiness with PTI’s coverage of the border stand-off with China.
PB said the decision was taken keeping in mind its commercial interests and due to a need to rationalise expenditure on news agencies. The Editors Guild of India reacted with “dismay and concern” at the “vindictive manner in which governments, including their agencies, have acted against media organisations’’.
The EGI in a statement said, “A few months ago, a senior official of Prasad Bharati had criticised PTI for what he believed was its ‘anti-national coverage’ of news pertaining to India-China ties…The Guild believes that such actions threaten as well as undermine the independent functioning of media organisations and should be withdrawn forthwith.”
Prasar Bharati officials, however, denied the decision had anything to do with PTI’s coverage. They said PB would call for fresh proposals for bringing domestic news agencies on board after it finalises specifications of its current requirements by year-end, and both PTI and UNI would be free to apply again.
The PB decisions comes months after the national broadcaster wrote a sharply-worded letter to PTI, calling its coverage of the India-China border clash in Ladakh “detrimental to national interest” and accused it of undermining India’s “territorial integrity”. It was particularly aggrieved with the news agency, India’s largest, for an interview it did with China’s ambassador and suggested that the reporter did not question the diplomat on his version of the confrontation.