Television

Irregularities persist in DD: CAG to I&B ministry

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NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has said that despite repeated pointing out, lapses have continued in India's pubcaster Doordarshan for the past six years, which has resulted into net financial losses to the tune of Rs 930 million.



"As audit is conducted on a test check basis of which only more serious irregularities are reported, the net financial effect for DD could be much higher," the CAG's Vijayendra N Kaul has written in a letter to information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.



The CAG letter, a copy of which is available with indiantelevision.com, points out that the financial losses have resulted due to sponsors being allotted extra free commercial time (FCT), non-recovery of dues from advertising agencies by various regional DD centers and non-adherence to the minimum guarantee terms in some cases.



As many as 16 programmes where DD gave undue benefit of Rs 490 million to sponsors were highlighted in the audit reports of 1997 to 2003. "In some cases, FCT rates were fixed without reference to the rate card, while in others excess FCT was allowed for odd-duration programmes by not calculating FCT from the rate card at a pro rata basis," the letter informs the I&B minister.



Contacted by indiantelevision.com, KS Sarma, CEO of Prasar Bharati, which oversees the functioning of DD, said he was not aware of the CAG letter to I&B ministry and so would not be able to offer any comments.



Some of the programmes that benefited from arbitrary fixation of sponsorship fee and FCT , as pointed out by CAG's latest missive to the I&B ministry, include Good Morning India (from April to September, 1996), Ankhon Dekhi, Dopahar Ankhon Dekhi, Captain House, election-related programmes during January-March period in 1998 and Param Vir Chakra.



For instance, in Good Morning India's case, concessional sponsorship fee at 50 per cent of the prescribed fee was allowed, while 600 seconds of FCT was allowed in place of the prescribed 300 seconds.



Even the country's No. 1 news channel , Aaj Tak, in its older avatar as a news and current affairs programme on DD is a beneficiary of inappropriate application of rate card for programmes during odd-duration, CAG has reiterated. Loss to DD: Rs. 53.79 million.



Further, the CAG letter, dated 22 March, 2004, has stated that DD's regional centers like Lucknow, Chennai, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram and Mumbai had been pointed out for comments during audit reports of 1998 to 2002 where the financial loss due to non-recovery of dues is to the tune of Rs 170 million.



Thiruvananthapuram center of DD leads the pack in non-recovery of dues (Rs 57.7 million) followed by Kolkata (Rs 35 million) and Mumbai (Rs 32.9 million). The CAG has said that it had been pointed out that DD centers were not exercising penal provisions --- demanding penal interests, cancellation of accreditation of ad agencies --- against defaulters.



Non-adherence of minimum guarantee terms resulted in loss of Rs 270 million during audit reports of 1998 to 2002. Some of the programmes and events that benefited from DD's lapse, CAG has said, include Superhit Muqabla (Sept 1995 to Oct 1996) and sports events like cricket and tennis.



It may be pointed out here by indiantelevision.com that some of the cases referred to by CAG as resulting in losses to DD are contentious ones where the private company concerned has contested DD's claims leading to legal proceedings.

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