The ministry of information and broadcasting said yesterday that Hindusthan Samachar will not be the “sole source” for Prasar Bharati’s daily news feed; it will be one of “multiple sources”. This was clarified in the Rajya Sabha in response to a question from John Brittas of the CPIM.

The ministry added that Hindusthan Samachar “was providing services to All India Radio and Doordarshan in 1970s, even before formation of Prasar Bharati”.

Prasar Bharati had signed a two-year contract with Hindusthan Samachar to supply national and regional news items for its feed after cancelling its subscription to Press Trust of IndiaHindusthan Samachar was set up by an RSS pracharak in 1948 and is seen as an institution established on the ideology of the Sangh.

In the Rajya Sabha yesterday, the I&B ministry said Prasar Bharati’s latest agreement with Hindusthan Samachar was signed on February 14, 2023 “for news feed for being utilised in the news bulletins and other programmes for TV, radio, digital and other modes of dissemination”. This agreement is valid until March 31, 2025.

When Brittas asked why Prasar Bharati cancelled its subscriptions with PTI and UNI, the ministry vaguely said those services had been availed “on the basis of an ad-hoc pro-rata arrangement from the year 2006 onwards”. Prasar Bharati’s board informed PTI and UNI in October 2020 that it “had decided to end the ad-hoc arrangement”.

similar question had been asked in the Rajya Sabha yesterday by Jawahar Sircar of the Trinamool Congress. Sircar asked why Hindusthan Samachar had been selected and whether the government was aware that it was “biased because of its close links with the RSS, BJP and VHP”.

I&B minister Anurag Thakur merely said:

The public broadcaster’s decision to ally with an RSS-backed news service was widely criticised. Earlier this week, the National Alliance of Journalists and the Delhi Union of Journalists issued a joint statement expressing their “serious concern at the virtual capture” of Prasar Bharati by the RSS.

“It will saffronise news in India to suit the ruling party and kill neutral and independent journalism,” the statement said.

Newslaundry had reported in 2018 on how Hindusthan Samachar, which was all but unknown so far, was hoping to become India’s biggest news agency – with a little help from RSS and friends. Read all about it here.

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