The Agartala centre of Doordarshan on Wednesday refuted the allegations that it had refused to telecast Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar’s Independence Day address, claiming that the broadcaster, in fact, gave a wide coverage of his speech and the development activities of the state government.
On Tuesday Sarkar alleged that Doordarshan and AIR refused to broadcast his August 15 address unless he "reshaped" it and termed it as an "undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step".
In a statement, UK Sahoo, head of the DD’s Agartala centre, said: “On August 15, 2017, Doordarshan also gave wide coverage to the chief minister’s Independence Day programme and telecast report running to 29 minutes and 45 seconds. Out of which, Hon’ble Chief Minister’s speech coverage was for 12 minutes. This was telecast at 1900 hours.”
The statement added: “There is a repeat telecast of this programme at 16:45 hours today i.e August 16, 2017.”
Stating that the blackout allegations are "totally incorrect", Sahoo added that over the last 25 years, the DD's Agartala centre has given wide publicity to the speeches of chief minister of Tripura.
A Tripura government press statement had alleged that DD and AIR had recorded Sarkar's speech on August 12. On August 14 at 7 pm, the chief minister's office was informed through a letter that his speech would not be broadcast unless he "reshaped it".
The letter purportedly said, "The message of the chief minister was closely examined by a competent authority. In view of the sanctity of the occasion, the broadcast code and responsibility of the public broadcaster it is not possible to telecast it in the present format."
"However, Doordarshan/Prasar Bharati will be happy if the chief minister agrees to reshape the content making it suitable to the solemnity of the occasion and sentiment of the people," it purportedly said.
The CMO statement claimed: "The chief minister clearly stated that he would not change a single word and described it as unprecedented, undemocratic, autocratic and intolerant step."
Sarkar's speech was supposed to be broadcast today by Doordarshan and AIR in Tripura.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said Doordarshan was "not the private property" of the BJP-RSS and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "instructing his cronies to black out voices" of the opposition, including that of an elected chief minister.
In a statement, the CPI-M Politburo said it "strongly condemns the refusal by the Doordarshan and All India Radio to broadcast the customary Independence Day address of Sarkar".