By Amrita Nayak Dutta
Prasar Bharati — the parent body of the state-owned Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) — has issued a social media code of conduct for its contractual staff, which states that they will have to reveal their true identities on their social media accounts and not post comments in conflict with organisational interest.
The new rules, which have been accessed by ThePrint, also state that the employees cannot post personal views on official social media platforms of the organisation. The rule is applicable for social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Telegram, Snapchat and WhatsApp among others.
The code of conduct issued by Prasar Bharati last week will be applicable to 750 contractual staff posted across the organisation. Violation of the code will invite strict punishment from Prasar Bharati, the rules state.
Insiders said the move was prompted by several such staff posting political content online — some also through anonymous accounts — which was deemed not to be in the interest of the organisation.
A senior Prasar Bharati official, however, called the move a “periodic reminder”.
“There has always been a code of conduct. It is now being made part of the contracts as well, so that everyone is sensitised to adhering to it,” the official said. “There is also a tendency to use social media for grievance redressal, which is also in violation of the conduct.”
In the code, Prasar Bharati says it respects the right to freedom of speech and expression of all its contractual employees but adds that in the interest of the organisation and overall public interest, the ‘Code of Conduct’ has been brought out to maintain a “standard, professional approach and scrupulous observance by all the contractual engagees while using social media in any manner”.
Any violation of the code, it states, will be considered as “misconduct” and may invite appropriate action against the employee.
“Depending on the gravity of misconduct, such action may include either temporary suspension of contract for a specified period as determined by Prasar Bharati at its sole discretion, or outright termination of contract, without any notice pay/period,” it states.
What the code says
The code makes it clear that running personal accounts in fake names is not acceptable and that contractual staff will have to clearly reveal their true identity on their personal social media accounts.
It states that contractual staff will not be permitted to post their personal comments or views on official social media platforms of Prasar Bharati.
“Any view, comment, or post in conflict with organizational interest and reputation shall be considered as serious indiscipline,” the code says.
It adds that while expressing views or forwarding posts from their personal social media accounts, contractual staff “shall not give any impression, either directly or indirectly, that they are doing so in their official capacity or expressing the official viewpoint of Prasar Bharati”.
The code also states that the staff cannot post content that is “prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order and decency or morality”.
It adds that posted content shall not intrude into the privacy of other individuals and revealing personal details of other persons will be avoided.
The code also prohibits the use of smartphones in office for the purpose of recording either audio, video or photography or scanning of any form of official documentation.
In November last year, Prasar Bharati had issued an order for the third time barring officials from interacting with the media without its permission and highlighting that lapses to this effect have been viewed “very seriously”. ( The Print )