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Prasar Bharati's grants-in-aid gets substantial increase, first-time separate allocation for strengthening broadcast services

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NEW DELHI: The grants-in-aid for Prasar Bharati have gone up again for the third time over the last few years from the revised estimates of Rs 2708.29 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 3056.86 for 2016-17.

In addition, there is a grant-in-aid of Rs 52 crore to Doordarshan’s Kisan Channel, which is double that of aid last year.

In addition, there is an investment of Rs 200 crore in the pubcaster, which is the same as last year. Though the previous government had stopped investments in the pubcaster, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had re-introduced this in 2015-16 after a gap of two years. 

An explanatory note says the grants-in-aid is being provided to cover the gap in resources of Prasar Bharati in meeting its revenue expenditure.

The grant in aid for Prasar Bharati in 2015-16 was Rs 2824.55 crore for 2015-16, apart from the grant-in-aid of Rs 26.26 crore in the revised estimates (as against the budgetary allocation of Rs 45 crore) on Kisan Channel.

Expenditure on salaries of Prasar Bharati has fallen on the shoulders of the Government since all Prasar Bharati employees who were in employment as on 5 October, 2007 have been given deemed deputation status.

The total budget of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has been raised to Rs 4083.63 crore, which is a small raise in comparison to Rs 3711.11 crore for 2015-16, though the revised estimates for the year show an expenditure of Rs 3588.58 crore. 

A major effort this year was to reduce the number of heads under which allocations have been made over the years. For example, there are no separate allocation for film certification or Press Information Services as in previous years.

Interestingly, there is a separate allocation of Rs 30.83 crore for strengthening of broadcasting services, which includes Rs 28.83 on information and publicity and the balance on building and machinery. This provides for Electronic Media Monitoring Centre, contribution to the Asian Institute of Broadcasting Development, Community Radio movement in India, Digitalisation, Building and Machinery and private FM Radio Stations.

The allocation under ‘Secretariat - Social services’ has been cut down to Rs 70.32 crore as against the budgetary allocation of Rs 235.23 crore in 2015-16 as the revised estimates show an expenditure of just Rs 91.44 crore. The explanatory note says that from 2016-17, this covers the expenditure under Non-Plan activities only which includes provision for Main Secretariat and Principal Accounts office.

The allocation for the film sector has been raised to Rs 268.53 crore and covers art and culture, information and publicity, which takes the maximum share of Rs 213.64 crore. Subjects under this head include the National Film Heritage Mission, anti-piracy measures, promotion of Indian cinema overseas, production of films and documentaries, and setting up a centre of excellence for animation, gaming and visual effects. The explanatory note adds that Secretariat - Social services also covers expenses on development of community radio, and development support to the north-east as well as Jammu and Kashmir and ‘other identified areas.’

Thus, there is an allocation of Rs 33.31 crore for Mass Communications, which covers (a) Indian Institute of Mass Communication, an autonomous body, which imparts training in mass media and conducts courses in journalism, and (b) New Media Wing, which collects basic information on subjects of media interest for providing assistance to the Ministry and to its Media Units, Indian Missions abroad and newspapers and media agencies.

There is another provision of Rs 491.78 crore, which includes expenditure (a) Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity - for planning and executing publicity campaigns through advertising and other printed materials, as well as through Radio and Televisions, exhibitions and other outdoor publicity media; (b) Press Information Bureau - which serves as a link between the Government and the Press and attends to the publicity and public relations requirements of various Ministries/Departments, including grants to Press Council of India, a statutory organisations seeking to preserve press; (c) Field Publicity - covering expenditure of Directorate of Field Publicity and its district level field units engaged in inter-personal developmental communications through films shows, live media programmes, photo displays and seminars; (d) Song and Drama Division - for creating awareness amongst the masses, particularly in rural areas, about various activities of national developments of units spread all over the country; (e) Publications - for publishing priced books, journals and other printed material in English, Hindi and regional languages on a wide variety of subjects and 'Employment News/Rozgar Samachar;' (f) Information Wing Plan Schemes - for training, international media programme, Policy related studies etc.; and (g) Photo Division.

For the seventh year in a row, the government has not announced any investment in the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).

There is a marginal increase in the lump sum provision for projects/schemes for development of North-eastern areas including Sikkim to Rs 80 crore against Rs 75 crore last year.

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