|The government funds Prasar Bharati by extending annual
grant-in-aid. A proposal to revive levying a one-time licence fee
on radio and TV sets, as done in the UK to aid the BBC, hasn’t found
According to the I&B ministry official, after a stock taking
is done of Prasar Bharati, including its human and other assets
(excluding software), the options for a restructuring could include
transferring of real estate assets to the pubcaster in a cashless
“It has to be seen which is the best option for a financial restructuring.
This could include transferring of assets to Prasar Bharati on long-term
lease or permanently,” the official said, pointing out that loans,
equity and subsidies could also be options.
“But these are things that have to be considered after Prasar Bharati’s
assets are valued and then contrasted against projections made by
the organisation,” the official added.
Though there are various estimates of the value of real estate
on which offices and facilities of Doordarshan and All India Radio
(AIR) sit around the country --- some of them on prime land ---
the Nitish Sengupta Committee had put a figure of Rs. 55 billion
on it in the late 1990s at the then market rate. Since then land
prices have gone up several notches.
The committee looking into the financial restructuring of Prasar
Bharati is expected to submit its report to the government by next
Reddy, however, has ruled out repealing of the Prasar Bharati Act
as demanded by a section of employees of the organisation in a letter
to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a couple of months back
Earlier, while listing the I&B ministry’s achievements at the
Economic Editors’ Conference, Reddy termed various initiatives,
including the newly announced downlinking norms, “in the direction
of liberalisation and globalisation.”
Speaking on mandatory sports content sharing with the Indian pubcaster
by telecast rights holders, which has raised the heckles of many
a private broadcaster, Reddy said, “It’s a milestone (decision).”
Still, when Indiantelevision.com pointed out that such mandatory
content sharing elsewhere, including the UK and Australia, don’t
get implemented with a retrospective effect (as done by the Indian
government), Reddy preferred to keep quiet.
Asked what was the rationale behind restricting foreign news channels
(like the BCC and CNN) landing rights in India if they aired content
and advertising targeted at Indians, Reddy said a reason was to
bring about “uniformity in print and electronic media guidelines.”
But he did not deny or confirm when it was pointed out to him that
this was a measure that was more aimed at having control over foreign
According to the minister, his department does not have a single
static media policy.
Each media unit is functioning on two governing principles ---
to provide access to information to both the government and private-owned
media, while ensuring that socially accepted standards of decency
and ethics are maintained.
Dwelling on an initiative relating to piracy, officials informed
that I&B ministry had commissioned the Public Service Broadcasting
Trust to produce a film regarding the effects of piracy in the film
sector. The film, Fight Piracy Today, will be aired on Doordarshan