Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the Prasar Bharati’s move to replace PTI and UNI with Hindustan Samachar, an agency with close links to RSS, as the sole outside source of news for Doordarshan and the All India Radio was “an attempt to saffronise news and silence dissent”.
“Secular and democratic forces must unite to resist such communal schemes,” the Chief Minister tweeted on February 26.
Hindustan Samachar is a multilingual news agency that was founded in 1948 by Shivram Shankar Apte, a senior RSS pracharak and co-founder of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, along with RSS ideologue M.S. Golwalkar. It now offers subscription-based news feeds in 11 vernacular languages and English. Hindustan Samachar once had Malayalam feeds, but it has now been discontinued.
CPM state secretary M V Govindan, too, warned of a Sangh Parivar conspiracy behind Prasar Bharati’s Hindustan Samachar move.
“By choosing Hindustan Samachar to offer news service to Prasar Bharati, the Modi government is now officially implementing its policy of saffronisation,” Govindan said during the Kozhikode leg of the People’s Resistance March on February 26.
“The attempt is to inject communal poison in the minds of the people,” he said. Govindan said that Hindustan Samachar, which was set up under the leadership of the RSS ideologue and its second sarsanghchalak, Golwalkar, had been brought in to replace Press trust of India (PTI). “This way the power to decide the kind of news that would be relayed through the DD and AIR would go into the hands of the RSS,” Govindan said.
Like the Chief Minister, the CPM state secretary, too, said that secular and democratic forces should come forward to resist the move.
Hindustan Samachar has been offering free services to Prasar Bharati since 2017. According to Wikipedia, a year after Emergency was declared in India in 1975, Hindustan Samachar was merged with Press Trust of India, United News of India and Samachar Bharati to form the media monopoly Samachar. Hindustan Samachar was revived as an independent entity in 2002 when Atal Behari Vajpayee was in power.
The new deal with Prasar Bharati was inked on February 9 this year. The deal is said to be for two years. It is said that the deal with Hindustan Samachar is cheaper than Prasar Bharati’s annual deal with PTI, but costlier than UNI’s.
It was a known fact that the Centre was not pleased with the PTI reporting of events related to China and Kashmir. A top government official had openly called the reporting “anti government”.