One company has caused an uproar by threatening to fire everybody over the age of 35 for being “too mature and boring”.
Government-owned All India Radio (AIR) in the West Bengal capital of Kolkata hit the local headlines on Saturday after announcing plans to sack up to 100 ‘over-the-hill’ radio DJs.
The upper age limit was first proposed at the end of last year as a way to “infuse freshness in presentation of programs”.
“FM programs are primarily aimed at youngsters,” an AIR official was quoted as saying. “At times, we received complaints that our jockeys are very boring and too mature for the programs they present.”
Announcers rubbished those claims, with one telling The Telegraph of India : “It is a ridiculous proposition. In foreign countries, the popular radio jockeys are mostly those who have been presenting shows for decades.”
The move to axe the golden oldies, the majority of whom are women, caused a severe backlash against the station.
Avantika Ghosh of the AIR Broadcasters’ Welfare Association told The Times of India the decision was “absolutely irrational”.
“There is no scientific reasoning that says that once a person crosses 35, the voice modulation ceases to sound good,” she said. “Moreover, most of us feed our families from our income. About 85 per cent of us are women.”
In response to the protests, AIR appeared to back down, announcing the over-35s would instead have to pass a “voice and skill test” to keep their jobs as a “gesture of goodwill”.
AIR boss Fayyaz Sheheryar said on Monday: “We have no plans whatsoever to sack anybody. We will conduct a voice test for all and ensure each casual radio jockey and announcer gets a chance to prove their versatility in front of the microphone.”
However, The Hindu now reports that the 100 presenters in question appear to have indeed been sacked, having been removed from their rosters the day after a stay issued by the Central Administrative Tribunal expired.
The paper says the staff are in “complete darkness” about their fates. “No one told us anything, whether we would be getting any work in future or made totally redundant for age by one of the most reputed institutions of the country,” Ms Ghosh told the outlet.