DD owed over Rs 3.3 billion by 45 errant agencies

NEW DELHI: If Doordarshan revenues are on the downswing, then blame it on those who owe DD money and the inadequacy of the current system to recover that money. As many as 45 agencies, including some advertising agencies, owe Doordarshan, the national broadcaster, a total of Rs 3,344.58 million. 

Information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj admitted this to the Lower House of the India Parliament (Lok Sabha) last week. 

Swaraj in her reply to a question on dues owed to DD said in the LS, " The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) in its report for the year ended March 2001 (Transaction Audit Observation No. 2 of 2002) has referred to systematic deficiencies and procedural lapses in the billing practices of commercial programmes of DD. It has highlighted that Rs. 33445.84 lakhs (Rs 3,344.584 million) is outstanding against 45 agencies."

The minister further said that the CAG report is under examination by the ministry in consultation with Prasar Bharati, the autonomous body that oversees the functioning of DD and All India Radio.

The minister did not reveal whether the 45 errant agencies were still being allowed to produce programmes for DD whose total revenues revenues in the financial year 2001-02 ended March 31, 2002 stood at just Rs 6,152.1 million, slightly down from the previous year.

Prasar Bharati officials had admitted to some time back that there is a "cash flow problem". This cash problem has resulted in some people not getting their dues.

It had also been said that the Prasar Bharati is in the process of signing an MoU with the government that will facilitate release of funds from the government in two tranches. 

Meanwhile, it has also come to light that DD1 is setting up more studio complexes in the country over the next two years.

Nine studios are, at present, under implementation in various parts of the country.

The studio projects are underway at Warrangal (Andhra Pradesh), Hissar (Haryana), Rajouri (Jammu & Kashmir), Calicut (Kerala), Patiala (Punjab), Gangtok (Sikkim), Coimbatore and Madurai (Tamil Nadu) and Delhi.

And if there was any hope for the revival of the DD News channel, the optimists can take a break. Swaraj has now made it public in Parliament that "at present there is no proposal to start a news channel." 

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