With the aim of ‘injecting sectoral experience to rejuvenate’ the public service broadcaster, the Bill also provides for fixing the upper age limit of the Chairman at 70 to ensure appointment of comparatively younger talent and experience’. In the parent Act, there is no age limit for the Chairman.
Reducing the term of the Chairman will, according to the Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Bill, ‘help to bring diversity of experience at the top level for the benefit of the organisation. Similarly, a need is also being felt for change in the tenure and upper age limit of Chief Executive Officer from six to five years and from 62 years to 65 years respectively.'
The Bill also makes it clear that both the Chairman and the CEO cease to hold office if their appointment is inconsistent with the provisions of the Ordinance.
Thus veteran journalist M V Kamath, who is 86, will have to resign before his term comes to an end on 9 January 2009. He had been in the news in January this year when he did not accept the suggestion by CEO Baljit Singh Lalli to induct fellow IAS officers in All Indian Radio and Doordarshan. The Board turned down the move to provide for professionals in radio and TV as recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee.
In January 2003, the Congress party had called Kamath’s appointment as “one more blatant attempt by the National Democratic Alliance government to influence DD and AIR”.
Kamath, who will turn 87 in September, is a senior columnist and commentator on a whole range of national and international issues and an author of over 35 books on diverse subjects such as journalism, travel, history and culture, biography, politics and philosophy.
B S Lalli, 61, took charge as Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati at the end of December 2006. He is an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 1971 batch from the Uttar Pradesh cadre with vast administrative and managerial experience spanning over three decades.
The bill, seeking to replace an ordinance promulgated to this effect by the President on 7 February, was introduced by Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi.