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  • Not norms; currency and connections rule AIR

    Published on November 4, 2016

    By Sidharthan


    Controversial Christian Missionary K.P Yohannan meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi

    New Delhi:  If you are well connected and cash rich, can get a prime slots in AIR (All India Radio) even for religious preaching. The public broadcaster, flouting all norms, has been for the past two years airing faith based programmes sponsored and produced by the controversial Christian evangelist Dr. K P Yohannan, and a few others.

    AIR Kerala stations broadcast four faith based programmes a week, on prime time.  The  programmes – Vazhivilakku (on air every Friday 5.30-5.45PM),  Athmeeya Yatra (on air every Sunday 5.30-5.45 PM), Kanivinte Theerathekku (on air every Wednesday 5.30-5.45 PM) and Mozhi Muthukal (every Saturday 1.25 PM), are  explicitly having high dose of religious content.  Interestingly, these programmes were taken off air in 2013 for their objectionable religious overtones. But after the BJP-led NDA took over the regime, these faith based programmes are back on air again.

    The first of the four programmes in contention,  ‘Vazhivilakku’, is sponsored and produced by the Bangalore based Far East Broadcasting Associates of India (FEBA-India), a Christian missionary network started in India 1963 exclusively for  preaching and spreading Christianity.   FEBA has its own FM radio (started in 2004) and web radio (started in 2009) for spreading Christian faith.

    The Christian Missionary organization in its website explains their intension to preach Christianity and promote religious conversion. “FEBA India was founded by men of God who had the passion to touch the very hearts of people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was firmly believed that through the Radio, the message of Christ would be preached, and that it would cross all barriers to reach the unreached people groups.”

    The other two programme,  Athmeeya Yathra and Kanivinte Theerathekku are sponsored and produced by Dr K P Yohannan,  the self-proclaimed metropolitan bishop of a church faction- Believers Church.  The Believers church is running a 24×7 Religious TV channel and a radio channel with the title Athmeeya Yathra and now the evangelist has successfully utilized the public broadcaster to spread Christian Gospels and popularize his Radio, TV channels. In fact the Prasar Bharati rules do not permit its Radio/TV channels to air or promote programmes from rivals or competitors. This rule has been brazenly flouted.

    Yohannan’s Gospel for Asia (GFA), a missionary organization to promote Christian faith, is facing a law lawsuit in United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas for “for fraudulently soliciting hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations, and then misdirecting the money into” his “personal empire. The case was filed on February 8, 2016.

    The Gospel King is also being probed by the Indian agencies for his huge landholding and other sources of income.  The Christian evangelist is worth at least Rs 1500 crore, and most of this money has been syphoned in from US in the name of evangelism.

    It is surprising, the controversial preacher could get near to Prime Minister Narendra Modi through certain sources in Delhi and managed to click a few shots posing with the Prime Minister.  Yohannan had also donated one crore rupee to PM’s Ganga cleaning project which made headlines in the media.

    Here the pertinent question is how the public broadcaster dare to broadcast religious programme produced and sponsored by the Chrisitian evangelists. That too without even checking the content. “The programme CD, even without opening its cover, is directly taken to the broadcasting studio. The content is never checked,” confessed a senior AIR official on condition of anonymity. This explains the clout and influence these Christian evangelist have. As a local BJP leader said “they (the evangelists) have direct access to the high and mighty in Delhi.”

    According to reliable sources in AIR, the evangelical programmes were allowed in the national broadcaster flouting all norms.  As per rules the script of the programme should be approved in advance by the CBS centre which completes the contractual formalities.  The proprograme has to be then be checked and vetted before the broadcast. “But in all these four programmes the producers were exempted from any such formalities and their programme is on air without any check or clearance from the competent committee. Its mandatory, the content should not contain any religious flavour directly or indirectly. All these four programmes are promoting a particular religion which is highly objectionable.”

    In fact, a decision to discontinue the above said three pogrammes- Vaqzhivilakku, Athmeeya Yahtra and Kanivinte Theerathekku-was taken unanimously in the co-ordination meetings of Gr VII stations held in Kannur on 08.11.2013.  The officials had opposed the content and concept of the programme for its religious colour. They had pointed out “programmes are designed to promote a particular religion (Christian). There are objectionable remarks on other religion(s) which could provoke communal conflagrations.”  The officials pointed out that the said programmes were nothing but missionary messages camouflaged as campaign against alcoholism, female foeticide, gender inequality, AIDSand HIV. More over “there is an established norm of Prasar bharathi, not to give direct or indirect publicity to any competitor or rival.”   The producers are running radio and TV channels; even then they could get the slots in AIR breaching the norms.Though the programme was stalled temporarily in 2013, in less than a year the producers managed to Influence decision makers in Delhi and restarted it in 2014.  A senior lady officer who was in Thiruvanathapuram AIR station (now transferred) had reportedly lobbied in Delhi and got the programme back on air.

    The contention is “if you allow this evangelist programme to continue (to be broadcasted) in Kerala (AIR) stations in the near future the producers may, demand for slots in other states. Then there is a fare possibility of other religious fundamentalist forces fighting for sponsored slots in AIR.”

    AIR is the most powerful media and it has reach to over 99.1 percent of the rural population in India . These religious forces are happily preaching their ‘faith’ through AIR.  These forces are flush with funds and they know money can manipulate the decision makers.

    As a senior journalist in the national capital said “Have currency and connections, get things in your favour. Not the rule, but money matters.”



    1 Response for “ Not norms; currency and connections rule AIR ”

    • Baby Y Kireedathil says:

      Yes Money is manipulating things …..we the mute inglorious Miltons …watching these dramas …and games. Every where we can see the Manipulated Prince’s ruling and making decisions….layman miserably looking on ….So Sad. Norms and rules are for common man and not for the Big Daddies …..!
      – Baby.Y.Kireedathil , Kochi , Kerala .

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