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Thursday, June 8, 2017

When I was ordered to meet the Speaker - Article by K Kunhikrishnan, former DDG, Doordarshan


Television channels beaming the proceedings of the Parliament and state legislative Assemblies ‘live’ is now common. Believe it or not, there was a time when TV cameras were a taboo inside legislatures. Three decades ago, ‘live’ coverage of Assembly and Parliament proceedings was unimaginable. Malayalam TV broadcasts began from Trivandrum in 1985.

They were the cynosure of public eyes and I headed it. The coverage of Assembly proceedings on Doordarshan was reportage sans visuals, conforming to 1982 Parthasarathi Committee guidelines. Doordarshan used to broadcast Parliament and Assembly proceedings prior to the news bulletins, as a report by a talking head. Contrastingly Malayalam news bulletins, telecast immediately after the Assembly report, carried a minimum of 12 visual stories in a 15-minute bulletin! The news on Trivandrum Doordarshan was very popular.

V M Sudheeran of the Congress was the speaker of the Kerala Assembly from March 1985. Once, we were travelling together from Trivandrum to Ernakulam. He is media-savvy and we spoke about TV signal operating system especially from outside for ‘live’ telecasts. Those were the days of terrestrial broadcasts only for Malayalam TV and I explained the signals could be carried through microwave link. The speaker enquired whether a broadcast of the Question and Answer part of the Assembly could be telecast ‘live’ with microwave signal carrying system and I answered yes.

The speaker was serious and made an announcement about the Assembly coverage, hitting national news. All hell broke loose; the government had no system for allowing cameras into the holy portals of legislatures! I was ordered to approach the speaker to make amends. The speaker was sympathetic to me but he could invoke powers of the legislative body summoning my top boss! Fortunately my superiors were sympathetic and were keen to wriggle out of the fiasco.

Within a few days, prior to the Kerala Assembly session, the then Doordarshan Director General Harish Khanna told me that the Minister for Information and Broadcasting V N Gadgil had apprised the Chief Minister K Karunakaran, about the impossibility of covering the legislature and that the speaker would be persuaded to drop the matter. Afterwards, Sudheeran and I had long discussions about installation of television coverage facilities in the present Kerala Assembly Hall. We had initiated an idea which later resulted in the television coverage of Assemblies and the Parliament, and finally the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV channels.

Source & Credit : http://www.newindianexpress.com/opinions/2017/jun/07/when-i-was-ordered--to-meet-the-speaker-1613669.html

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting piece off write up. How an idea initiated by the former DDG and the then Speaker of Kerala resulted in the television coverage of Assembly and the Parliament proceedings. This small incident turned out to be a big boon for the people of our country as today we get to know what is going in our temple of democracy.

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