New Delhi : With a video of a Doordarshan anchor making several gaffes at the Goa film festival going viral on social media, barely two months after another anchor used a roman numeral to address the Chinese President Xi Jinping, the public broadcaster seems to be making news for all the wrong reasons.
But even as media watchers point out that DD anchors have made at least four major mistakes on air in the past five months, officials blame the lapses on the growing dependence on “casual reporters” for reading news and anchoring programmes since vacancies have not been filled in the organisation for the past two decades.
The casual reporters hired on contract are often not trained for more than two hours on basic camera management skills before live coverage of an event. Besides, the channel no longer has a skill test mechanism to train and test anchors and journalists before they go on air, mainly because it is opposed by a section of people who feel it is discriminatory.
Officials say the supervisory programme cadre that has trained professionals looking at last-minute mistakes made by anchors has become almost defunct because vacancies have not been filled.
“With just 10 of the 191 required supervisors working, checking has become difficult. Also, people are watching DD more, so more mistakes are being reported,” said Prasar Bharti CEO Jawahar Sircar.
At the Goa film festival, the anchor referred to state governor Mridula Sinha as the governor of India. The anchor was recalled from covering the closing ceremony because “she couldn’t identify important personalities attending the fest”, said officials.
In September, an anchor pronounced Chinese President Xi Jinping’s name as “Eleven Jinping”. After that, a reporter used names commonly associated with secessionists like Islamabad for Anantnag and Suleiman Hill for Shankaracharya Hill while reporting on the J&K deluge. DD also used a picture of former PM Manmohan Singh instead of Narendra Modi, adding to its string of embarrassments.
DD has over 18,000 vacancies, which has led to the disintegration of the programming section, said officials at Prasar Bharti, adding the channel survives on “adhocism” by taking people on contractual or casual basis, a far cry from the government’s ambition of elevating DD to the level of the best public broadcasters in the world.