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RS TV audit sought, content sharing with Prasar proposed by Veep

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MUMBAI: India's vice-president M Venkaiah Naidu, who is also the chairman of Rajya Sabha, has sought audit of the upper house broadcaster.

RSTV, Naidu also said, should be able to quantify the reach of the channel (viewership) besides having systems for feedback on and evaluation of content. Efforts, he said, needed to be made to expand its reach with a clear plan of action, suggesting the possibility of synergy with Prasar Bharati through sharing of content.

During a review, he was surprised to notice it was spending Rs 125 million for making "Raag Desh," a commercial film produced by former RS TV editor and CEO Gurdeep Singh Sappal. It was based on Indian National Army trials, the court martial of its officers -- Col Gurbaksh Singh Dhillon, Col Prem Sehgal and Major Shah Nawaz Khan.

Naidu was informed that the channel had invested around Rs 3.75 billion since August 2011 when it started, the Times of India reported.

Naidu sought a full-fledged professional and expense audit after he also found that an annual rent of Rs 250 million was being paid for office premises in New Delhi and around Rs 35 million spend on housing-keeping and hiring of cabs. Naidu wants to, instead, explore the possibility of owning an office.

Naidu also questioned on RS TV's original mandate, reach of the channel, present content mix, utilisation of manpower and other resources, expenditure, and the scope for rationalisation, Mint reported.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) meantime ordered a probe against the pubcaster Prasar Bharati for alleged abuse of dominance with regard to infrastructural facilities for FM radio broadcasting.

The probe was ordered based on a complaint filed by Mumbai-based Clear Media against Prasar and the MIB. Clear Media had entered into an agreement with Prasar in 2006 for using its common transmission tower in Delhi. The dispute started after the collapse of the tower in 2014.

The fair trade regulator, however, rejected similar complaints against the MIB, saying it was a government department responsible for framing rules without any involvement in any economic activity.

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