All India Radio news department hit by vacancies, manpower crunch
This comes amid a recent report by the Reuters Institute that had Doordarshan and All India Radio high on a list of news media trusted by people for the authenticity of their news items.
While Doordarshan is on its way to launch a global channel, AIR – which has added to programming and growing presence in social media – is running thin on both manpower and budget.
At least 50 of the 120 positions in the news division in the editorial wing are vacant, of which the maximum vacancies are at the deputy director level, senior officials told ET.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the duration of bulletins has doubled – from 15 minutes to 30 minutes and from five minutes to 10 minutes.
The division has urged higher officials in Prasar Bharati to allow hiring of at least some interns from institutions such as the Indian Institute of Mass Communication to ensure work gets done and save on costs in the interim.
“The news division has almost doubled the output in the past one year on the same resources. We are heavily dependent on casual workers; nine of the contractual staff have retired in the past few months and they have not been replaced,” a senior employee pointed out.
There are vacancies in newsroom, reporting, talks and social media that need to be filled with at least contractual staff, the person added.
More important positions – of members handling finance and personnel and of the chairman of the national broadcaster – have also been vacant for quite some time.
Senior Prasar Bharati officials, however, said the old model of vacancies is no longer relevant to AIR’s way of working. They said manpower requirements are being reworked to suit contemporary needs.
To view the issue as a manpower crunch would not be right as vacancies are “based on an old manpower model which is defunct and not relevant to the future,” a senior Prasar Bharati board member said.
“The manpower requirements going forward are being reworked based on manpower audit recommendations. A manpower planning tool is being developed to enable the same. Future manpower needs will be determined based on that,” the board member said.
“As we move to more contemporary form or media with more emphasis on digital, as many as 38 categories of posts have become either obsolete or outsourced and are being mapped to new roles/skillsets,” the person added.
Officials in AIR, however, point out that many new shows such as Sanskrit Weekly, Money Matters, North-East Diary and World News have come up in the past year with programming being done by existing staff.
They said the budgetary requirements of the news division of AIR, covering all its 46 regional units, is about Rs 45 crore annually, a minuscule part of its combined annual budget.
With the growing use of social media, the division has had to have a team run its social media pages, which include amplifying its content on Twitter, Facebook, Koo, YouTube and Instagram. This is now being done by five casual staff, employees said, underscoring the need for more editors and graphic designers.
“There are four shifts in a day and there are more than 19,000 annual slots to be filled. When you take the case of newsreel, except for three, the unit runs almost entirely on casual broadcast assistants. Prasar Bharati had issued an order in April that broadcast assistants be engaged on contractual basis, instead of casual. That needs to be implemented,” a senior employee said.
“To handle 50 ministries and departments, there should be at least 25 reporters, but there are just nine, another employee said, adding that the state of the manpower crunch is such as that the Urdu news unit – that runs three bulletins every day – is managed by five contractual employees and one regular. The Sanskrit unit with two bulletins a day is run entirely by casual employees, the person said, adding that it was important to make “the national broadcaster regain its aspirational value for potential recruits.”
When contacted, senior officials manning the AIR news division said they are in the process of communicating their requirements to both Prasar Bharati as well as senior I&B ministry officials. “They said they are looking into it,” an official said.
We are now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@TechiUpdate) and stay updated with the latest Technology headlines.
For all the latest Entertainment News Click Here