Television

On assets of Rs 54 billion, Prasar revenues were Rs 7 billion

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NEW DELHI: The total assets of Prasar Bharati Corporation, the autonomous body modelled on the UK pubcaster BBC to oversee the work of Doordarshan (DD) and the All India Radio (AIR), have been estimated to be in the region of Rs 54 billion as of 2001-02 ended 31 March 2002.

 

According to figures compiled by Prasar Bharati, which are to be presented to the Indian Parliament soon, the assets at the disposal of Prasar Bharati Corporation make it as big as Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) which runs telecom networks in the cities of Mumbai and New Delhi. But the similarity ends there as its revenues don't compare well with that of MTNL.

The total revenues generated by Prasar Bharati has been pegged at Rs 7.36 billion for the year mentioned above, with almost 90 per cent of the revenues coming from DD. Comparatively, MTNL has net sales of Rs 61.44 billion for the year ended 31 March 2002.

According to information available with indiantelevision.com, Prasar Bharati's total asset of Rs 54 billion do not include the various real estate properties where various DD and AIR offices and facilities are located round the country. The primary reason for the non-inclusion of the commercial properties is that the land deeds have not yet been transferred by the government to the Corporation. a corporate entity.

"Imagine the huge assets that Prasar Bharati would be sitting on if the rights of the real estate is also transferred to the Corporation, especially considering the high cost of land in India these days," a source in Prasar Bharati mentioned while speaking to indiantelevision.com.

AIR and DD occupy prime real estate properties in metros like Delhi and Mumbai whose market value, as per current market prices, would run into millions of rupees. Despite this, the Prasar Bharati secretariat is housed in rented premises in the heart of the Capital in the Press Trust of India building.

Before the Prasar Bharati had been formed and the various modalities were being worked out, a high-powered committee, instituted by the government in the mid-1990s, had estimated that the total asset, including land, at the disposal of the Corporation would be in the region of Rs 550 billion - a figure which was topic of much discussion in government circles then. The committee had taken into account the then market price of various real estate properties which were occupied by DD and AIR round the country.

Recently, India's information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj had informed parliament that there is a big gap between running expenses of pubcasters DD and AIR and the revenue being generated by the organisation.

She had informed Parliament that the running cost of Prasar Bharati during 2001-2002 was Rs 10.50 billion, while the revenue earned was pegged at slightly over Rs 7 billion.

In recent times the Planning Commission, which plans government expenditure on a five-year basis, in a report had indicated that Prasar Bharati should seriously look at tapping various other ways of generating additional revenue.

The reason being the annual grants -in- aid which it gets from the government is likely to be reduced next financial year beginning 1 April 2003.

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