New Delhi, December 9: The Delhi High Court Wednesday asked the Centre to decide as expeditiously as possible the representations moved with regard to the closure of the National Channel of All India Radio and five of its regional academies.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan directed the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and Prasar Bharti to decide the representations in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable to the facts of the case, news agency PTI reported.

With the direction, the court disposed of a PIL moved by the AIR Casual Announcer and Comperes Union and the AIR Broadcasting Professionals Association which had contended that the national channel and the regional academies at Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Shillong and Thiruvananthapuram were shut down without conducting any assessment whether it was necessary.

The petition, filed through advocate Akash Vashishtha, had also opposed the closure of DTH AIR World service, Indraprastha and Rajdhani channels saying they were shut down under the garb of COVID-19.

The directions of the court came after Vashishtha said that four representations were made to the government and Prasar Bharti after closure of the National Channel in January 2019.

However, no decisions were taken on the representations, the petition claimed.

It had stated that “strategically important flagship popular channels such as AIR World Services have been delinked from the main studios and instead run as small-time programmes on YouTube and have poor viewership.”

It had also stated that closure of the national channel, regional academies, other vital broadcast stations and delinking of the world services has “caused critical loss of livelihood to around 450-500 casual announcers, presenters, broadcasters and radio jockeys”.

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