Television

76 media companies owe Prasar Bharati money, LS told

NEW DELHI: Sagar Enterprises, Prannoy Roy's NDTV, Nimbus Communications, along with the likes of Creative Eye, Multichannel, Sanjay Khan's Numero Uno and Balaji Telefilms figure in a list of companies that owe money to India's public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, according to the government.

Out of the 76 listed cases, the details of which were given to the Lower House of Parliament or Lok Sabha today, many cases like that of NDTV and Nimbus are legal matters pending in the court for recovery of dues or where the arbitration clause has been invoked.

Information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad informed the Lok Sabha that Nimbus owes Doordarshan Rs 4,245,750 since June-July 2002, while the outstanding against NDTV has been listed as Rs 30,963,030 since 31 March 1999. Nimbus has challenged the arbitrator's ruling in the Mumbai High Court, claiming the ruling favoured Prasar Bharati.

Balaji Telefilms owes DD Rs 4.8 million since 28 February 2001. The case is under reconciliation and the "dues are to be cleared shortly." Shiv Sena Member of Parliament Pritish Nandy's Pritish Nandy Communications owes DD Rs 15.4 million since 1998-99. In this case the arbitration clause has been invoked.

Sagar Enterprises, according to details given to Lok Sabha, owes Prasar Bharati Rs 49 million since 31 December 2000. The case is under "reconciliation". Even ad agency HTA owes Prasar Bharati Rs 1.6 million since 2000-01, but the case has been dubbed as "disputed."

Meanwhile, Lok Sabha was informed that Doordarshan earned commercial revenues of Rs 6375.1 million for 2000-2001, Rs 6152.1 million for 2001-2002 and Rs 5538.1 million for 2002-2003.

It was stated by Prasad in a written reply to Sunder Lal Tiwari and Satyavrat Chaturvedi in the Lok Sabha that Doordarshan does not earn any profit since its expenditure is at least three times more than its revenue.

In reply to another question, Prasad said that according to the National Readership Survey-2002, the viewership for DD-I and DD-II in all TV homes is much higher as compared to other channels. The viewership figures, furnished by the government, are DD-I (50 per cent), DD-II (20 per cent), Star Plus (16 per cent), Sony (14 per cent) and Zee (13 per cent).

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