The state broadcaster Prasar Bharati has threatened to cancel news agency Press Trust of India (PTI)’s subscription, alleging that the latter’s recent coverage was “detrimental to national interest” and undermined India’s “territorial integrity”.
PTI is the largest news agency in India and is a non-profit trust run by a Board, comprising owners/proprietors of key newspapers groups in the country.
According to sources, Prasar Bharati has sent a strongly worded letter to PTI conveying its “deep displeasure” on Saturday. The letter said PTI has conducted itself in a manner contrary to the values that the state broadcaster has been mandated to uphold and this has made it no longer tenable to continue the relationship. A final call on the subject will be taken by the Prasar Bharati soon.
The state broadcaster’s disquiet seems to have been sparked by an interview with China’s Ambassador to India Sun Weidong by the news agency on Thursday. In the interview, Mr Sun had put the onus of the conflict at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, and the subsequent clashes that killed 20 Indian soldiers, on India.
“The onus is not on China. The Indian side crossed the LAC (Line of Actual Control) for provocation and attacked the Chinese border troops. The Indian forces seriously violated agreements on border issues between the two countries,” the envoy was quoted as saying.
Though Prasar Bharati is one of the biggest subscribers of PTI, it does not have any other stake in the news agency.
The state broadcaster has pointed out that it has supported the news agency by paying “huge” annual fee running into crores for years. It also accused the agency of being rigid on the issue of rationalisation of the subscription fee.