AIR Director General Faiyyaz Sheheryar told Radioandmusic.com that it was also incorrect to say that these persons would be rendered jobless, since most of them were either employed elsewhere and working part-time for AIR or were doing this work as a hobby or to supplement income. ‘None of them are employees of AIR’, he emphasised.
He says that although the Audition Rules have always been there, it was only a few months earlier that Prasar Bharati decided to implement them as competition increased with the private FM channels.
Under the rules, those working in the primary channel of AIR on medium wave could continue to be presenters up to the age of sixty, while those working for the AIR FM Gold or FM Rainbow could do so only till the age of 35. The Rules had also provided that those in the now-defunct Yuva Vani could work as radio jockeys or presenters till the age of thirty.
AIR sources also denied reports that young persons were being forced to interview personalities with whose work they were not conversant. The sources said that all presenters and radio jockeys were asked to do adequate research before conducting programmes where they had to converse with or interview senior classical artistes or performers.
While not disputing the view that it was sometimes not possible to tell the age of a person from his or her voice, the sources said that every organisation has to lay certain criteria and in any case these presenters and radio jockeys were aware of this when they agreed to come on board in the public broadcaster.
It has been learnt that the directive will affect around 200 presenters or RJs. Official sources said they were aware that many of these persons were already well past the age set in the Audition Rules, and therefore it had been decided to implement those rules.
The presenters have been meeting many officials over the past several months, including the Station Director, DG and ADG of All India Radio, and given them representations, but Sheheryar said that the pub-caster was only following the rules.
AIR sources said jockeys for FM services of All India Radio are booked against a temporary contract on assignment basis and according to the programme exigencies of the channel and paid in accordance with the fee structure of AIR which is equally applicable to similarly placed assignees like, drama voices, music artistes, talkers etc.
The sources added that AIR like other established broadcasting organisations of the world is professionally bound to review, recast and recreate the panels of casual jockeys every year to bring in fresh talent and break monotony.
It was stressed that a casual jockey is offered a maximum of six days a month but not exceeding 72 days in a year on a temporary contract which does not mean that he/she is engaged or recruited against a clear vacancy of any regular post. This may be a monetary help but not a ROZGAAR or livelihood or a full time service. The canards being spread that hundreds of announcers have been thrown out of the job is totally misplaced and a sheer misrepresentation of facts’ Shaheryar said.
Sheheryar said AIR cannot afford to compromise with its established procedure of bringing in fresher and newer voices fairly articulate, well informed possessing appealing audio quality to serve in a fiercely competitive environment.
Meanwhile, AIR is mulling over a plan of creating shorter panels of jockeys/western music presenters on temporary contract to further professionalise the services and make such engagements cost effective at a time when the organisation is devising ways and means of enhancing its revenues and lessening expenditure in order to be able to fend for itself.