New Delhi: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati on Monday named Suresh Chandra Panda, member (personnel) as the interim chief executive officer at its 137th board meeting.
Panda will replace Jawhar Sircar who resigned on 3 October, four months before his scheduled retirement in February 2017. Prasar Bharati runs Doordarshan and All India Radio.
“Being the senior-most member of Prasar Bharati, S.C. Panda will take charge as the acting CEO from 4 November,” a senior Prasar Bharati official present at the meeting said. Sircar’s resignation was accepted by the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry on 16 October.
To be sure, Panda’s appointment will be short as his retirement is due in February 2017. “He will take charge for three months. By then, the government will be able to complete the selection process and appoint a new CEO,” the official said.
Panda, a 1981 batch Indian Administrative Officer from Assam-Meghalaya cadre has been serving Prasar Bharati since March 2015 as member (personnel). Prior to that, he was special secretary and financial adviser at the ministry of home affairs.
Panda’s appointment comes at a time when the public broadcaster is focused on auctioning the prime time programming slots of Doordarshan to the private production houses.
At the board meeting on Monday, the Prasar Bharati board gave Doordarshan an ultimatum to start the auction process by 1 November before the retirement of Sircar. “The new programming will roll out later but the broadcaster will wind up the auction process by the end of December. Till then, Doordarshan will continue to purchase programmes,” the official said.
In May, Prasar Bharati board decided to put up the 7-11pm slots on all weekdays on auction, while keeping the 7-8pm slot on Saturdays for its own content. Prior to that Doordarshan was purchasing programmes from private producers and generating advertising revenues. So far, Doordarshan has conducted two application rounds for the auction—neither of which concluded as the applicants were not found eligible to participate in the auction.
According to the slot policy of the broadcaster, a production house is eligible to bid if it has logged a revenue of at least Rs3 crore per annum in each of the past three financial years and has produced at least 200 hours of general entertainment programming, including feature films in the last three calendar years, among other conditions.