NATIONAL

Prasar Bharati begins test runs for DD News

NEW DELHI OCT. 28. With no word from the Election Commission on whether or not it can go ahead with its plan to launch a round-the-clock news channel from Doordarshan stables on November 3, Prasar Bharati began test runs today by imparting a sizeable news component into the Metro channel — which is being elbowed out to make room for the news channel on the terrestrial mode.

Though the Metro channel will continue with much of its programming for one more week, its operative controls shifted at 2-50 p.m. from the Doordarshan Kendra on Parliament Street to the Central Production Centre in Siri Fort from where the news component for the public broadcaster is now uplinked.

The Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati, K.S. Sarma, appeared before the Election Commission today along with the head of DD News, Swagata Ghosh, to explain the public broadcaster's plans vis-a-vis the channel. He is said to have assured the Commission that there was no proposal to have a politician inaugurate the channel.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry had earlier given its written response to the clarifications sought by the Commission which had triggered speculation on the fate of the Government's plans to launch the news channel ahead of the coming Assembly elections in the five States.

Though the Ministry has sought to distance itself from the plans — taking the plea that Prasar Bharati was an autonomous organisation — it is particularly apprehensive in view of the fact that the Election Commission stopped the Publications Division from releasing a book earlier this month.

The CEO met the Union Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Ravi Shankar Prasad, this evening along with the channel's newly-appointed consulting editor-cum-anchor, Deepak Chaurasia. The Election Commission apart, another cause of concern for the channel managers is a case filed by people who stand to lose with the shutting down of Metro channel. Hearings were wrapped up on Monday, and the verdict is expected on Wednesday.

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