March 2008 News

PDP, Congress hear bias on Radio Kashmir

13 March 2008
The Indian Express
Express News Service

SRINAGAR: Radio Kashmir is not making the right noise. Or that is what some political parties think. The broadcasting agency that rules the hearts and minds of thousands, has been accused of bias. Questioning its credibility, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Congress have shot off a letter to the Union Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi and sought his intervention. PDP president Mehbooba Mufti and state Youth Congress president M A Bhat claimed they were not satisfied with the coverage of Radio Kashmir’s current affairs programme Shahrbeen and have accused it of bias in its reporting. The broadcasting agency has, however, denied it, saying the move was personal vendetta of a former employee. “It seems the officials concerned are allowing themselves to be influenced by personal likings and dislikes, which have very prominent political overtones,” the PDP president said in her letter to Dasmunsi . “It (Shahrbeen) very unabashedly targets the political parties that don’t fit into the priorities of the news managers.” “It would be highly advisable to have the matters checked up and corrective measures taken,” the letter said. “I would urge you to kindly take urgent action in this regard.” The Congress too has joined the PDP this time in voicing its concern. “Unfortunately, the institution (Radio Kashmir) has now become a secret chamber for preparing concocted and self-thought stories, which create confusion, uncertainty and disappointment among the people,” the state Youth Congress president has written. “The purpose behind this campaign is to tarnish the public image of coalition partners, the Congress in particular.” Though the two parties haven’t explained the kind of bias that prevails in the current affairs programme, sources in the PDP and the Congress say that the coalition partners are angry over the programme as they feel that it gives more coverage to the opposition National Conference, especially at a time when the Assembly elections are around the corner. Radio Kashmir Director T Angmu, while rejecting the accusations, said the programme is most popular in the Valley. “There is no bias in the programme,” she said. “Some people might be thinking like that. Our advisory committee is regularly monitoring the programme. I am personally monitoring the programme. It is very balanced and I am satisfied.” Angmu said Radio Kashmir is maintaining the record of the timings given to each party. “We have to take care of every party, even the regional parties,” she said. “We don’t give our viewpoints.” The progamme in- charge G N Ratanpuri has termed the allegation as a canard. “I don’t see the letter as an outcome of any bias towards any political party but an effort from a former programme in-charge to usurp the position again.”

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