The country’s public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati has directed two of its channels, FM Rainbow and FM Gold, to phase out casual radio presenters above the age of 35 years.
Nearly 200 presenters will be affected by the directive in Delhi alone, many of whom have served All India Radio for 10 to 25 years. The national figure will be much higher.
The official order, issued on March 20, 2014, states: “The process of phasing out of FM presenters/radio jockeys above the age of 35 years should be completed within six months.”
Prasar Bharati has directed that bookings of all casual announcers/ comperes/ anchors/ presenters of FM (Gold/ Rainbow channels) and Yuvavani channels be stopped immediately on attaining the upper age limit.
The maximum age limit for the Yuvavani channel has been restricted to 30 years and will apply only to full-fledged exclusive Yuvavani services. However, the services of approved announcers will be “utilised and continued on the basis of annual review of their performance but not in any case beyond 60 years”. A casual presenter is offered a maximum of six days a month but not exceeding 72 days in a year on a temporary contract.
While Prasar Bharati CEO Jawahar Sircar did not comment on the issue, an AIR spokesperson said: “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.”
He added that jockeys for FM services of AIR were booked against a temporary contract and paid in accordance with the fee structure of AIR. Casual jockeys/ announcers are not regular employees of AIR, more so of the FM Rainbow and FM Gold, which do not have sanctioned posts of announcers. While some casual presenters have alternate sources of income, many depend solely on their monthly contracts with AIR.
Sunil Varma, who first joined AIR as a presenter in 1985, said the only reason provided by the broadcaster was that it was their mandate to promote new talent. “No one has objections to promoting new talent, but the argument of age fails on a medium like radio when no one gauge a person’s age by only listening to voice,” he said.
Subhadra, who joined the Delhi B channel as a teenager and subsequently moved to FM, said: “I have worked for music all my life and I