Prasar Bharati chalks plans to push revenue

NEW DELHI: There is a big gap between running expenses of India's pubcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio and the revenue being generated by the organisation, according to information and broadcasting minister Sushma Swaraj.

After the Indian Parliament reconvened for the Winter session on 18 November, the minister informed Parliament that the running cost of Prasar Bharati, which oversees the functioning of DD and AIR, during 2001-2002 was Rs 10508.3 million, while the revenue earned was pegged at Rs 7118.8 million. 

In recent times, the Planning Commission, which plans government expenditure on a five-year basis, in a report has indicated that Prasar Bharati should seriously look at tapping various other ways of generating additional revenue. Reason: the annual grants -in- aid which it gets from the government is likely to be reduced next financial year beginning 1 April 2003. 

Meanwhile, Swaraj also told Members of Parliament that Prasar Bharati has initiated a number of steps, within the mandate of public service broadcasting, to give a fillip to its revenue generation. 

According to Swaraj, the strategy , inter alia, adopted by Prasar Bharati, which is an autonomous body but still functions as a quasi-governmental organisation, in this regard are as follows: 

-to optimally utilise its infrastructure facilities;

-to improve its marketing mechanism;

-to make sustained efforts to obtain funds from various government departments for making in-house programmes.

In the same vein, she also informed Parliament that 71 companies owed DD Rs 1648.2 million as of 31 October, 2002. In case of AIR, the outstanding dues amounted to Rs 66.9 million.

Some critics of Prasar Bharati have pointed out that if the pubcaster made serious effort to recover the outstanding dues from the defaulting organisations, some of which are still doing business with DD and AIR, Prasar Bharati's annual revenue would go up substantially.

Giving a break-up of the revenue earned, Swaraj told fellow MPs that during 1999-2000, DD's revenues stood at Rs 5971.9 million, while those of AIR were Rs 808.4 million. During 2000-2001, DD's revenue was pegged at Rs 6375.1 million (an improvement from the previous year), while AIR's dipped to Rs 739 million. During 2001-2002, DD earned Rs 6152 million ( indicating a dip in earnings), while AIR's revenues increased from the previous year to Rs 966.8 million.

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