Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar pooh-poohs 'budget hike' reports

NEW DELHI: The Indian pubcaster has been a soft target since time immemorial. In the light of media articles citing ratings data by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, which say that Doordarshan’s viewership has been poor despite a hike in budget and hiring of expert consultants, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar pooh-poohs it all. 


In an exclusive interaction with, Sircar informs that the pubcaster has not even received full reimbursement of government salaries for employees recruited prior to October 2007.


Sircar goes on to point out that as per a decision by the then Group of Ministers (GoM), which was looking into the financial status of Prasar Bharati, it had been decided during the tenure of the previous government that the Central Government will bear the salaries and other allowances of all employees in service as on 5 October, 2007.


Sircar says, “As a result, our own revenue funds that are meant for ‘Content’ have gone to meet this salary gap.” He said that Prasar Bharati had been stressing this fact for the past three years. However, it seems like its voice fell on deaf ears.


At the outset, Sircar says, “I still cannot understand why some people are always raising this question of “hike in budget”? What budget? All the money we get is for paying salaries of 29,000 government servants, who were recruited by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry some 30 to 35 years ago. The government has to pay their salaries as long as they are in service and Prasar Bharati is mainly their administering body and the Ministry passes this salary bill on to Prasar Bharati, who had to engage these persons to disburse their government-scale salaries, without any leeway or choice.”


He added that while the Ministry used to set aside a sum of approximately Rs 80 - 100 crore for several years for creating content for “special areas,” this funding had also stopped, leaving behind several liabilities. 


With the choked fund pipeline for content, Sircar asks, “How does content improve? One way out is to offer our ‘time bands’ to external producers provided they cover our costs.” 


“We are waiting patiently for our funds to be returned. Since these issues are coming out publicly through vague terms like ‘an I&B Ministry official said,’ I would welcome an open debate on this question though we prefer to discuss these matters across the table. But after all, DD is a public institution and it is ready to face any public scrutiny,” Sircar opines.


No longer in a mood to take things lying down, Sircar posed a few pertinent questions:


1) Can we cut down costs on the huge infrastructure, some of which appears to be meaningless?


2) Do we really need to have analogue TV transmission in this satellite age?


3) Why do we spend so much to strengthen short wave and medium wave radio, when it is FM that is in demand?


“I have raised these questions as no one was raising them and many in this organization are not happy at all,” he adds.


Specifically referring to the media reports, he says, “If the programmes that DD has paid for (‘Commissioned’ or ‘SFC’ in DD’s language) do not appear to be attracting enough eyeballs, then we have to reach out to better producers like we used to do for MahabharatRamayan and Buniyaad, etc. DD did not produce its own programmes then or did not decide to pay or commission producers to make programmes for DD. We are seriously thinking about it. But we will have to go over this option very carefully.”


Drawing a comparison between the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and the Indian pubcaster, Sircar says, “There is a box in the news that advises DD to stay out of the numbers game and become a popular brand distinction like BBC. Do you have any idea of what this means? Every British citizen pays Rs 15,000 per year for the BBC’s quality programmes. But in India, Prasar Bharati struggles to earn its ‘content funds’ through content generated revenue against fierce competition.”


According to Sircar, as per calculations done by the Sam Pitroda Committee, in India the cost per person works out to a mere 31 cents or approximately Rs 20 by way of support to Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR). “BBC gets Rs 35,000 crore per year from the exchequer,” he adds. 


Signing off, Sircar says, “So why do we make such meaningless comparisons and indulge in wishful thinking?”

Latest Reads
Saregama launches Carvaan Mini Legends - Assamese

MUMBAI: Venturing into the state of incredible cultures and landscapes – Assam, Saregama is all set to embark on yet another musical journey by launching Carvaan Mini Legends- Assamese pre-loaded with 351 superhit evergreen Assamese songs. Saregama has earlier launched various regional variants...

Television TV Channels Music and Youth
News Broadcasting Standards Authority issues advisory on coverage of Ayodhya dispute verdict

While the Supreme Court ended the daily hearings of the Ayodhya dispute case on Wednesday, the News Broadcasting Standards Authority (NBSA) has issued a special advisory for reporting of the sensitive issue.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
&flix reduces Hollywood movie TV premiere window to five months

While the general time to bring a Hollywood movie to Indian TV screens has been nine to 12 months, &flix has changed that with its new deal with Sony Pictures Television. Now, viewers can catch their favourite movies within three months of launch.

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
NewsX gets into long-term partnership with Outbrain Engage suite of products

MUMBAI: Outbrain, the discovery and native advertising feed for the open web, announced that it has signed an exclusive long-term partnership with News X, one of India’s top English language Publishers. The partnership will allow News X to fully leverage the Outbrain Engage platform by maximising...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Star World announces #TheBestBoss contest on World Boss Day

MUMBAI: The Office certainly holds a special place in every fan’s heart for mixing that special mockumentary styled humor no other show has been able to manage. Star World, India’s leading English entertainment channel has brought this rib-tickling comedy series to television screens for the first...

Television TV Channels English Entertainment
CNN-News18 curate special programming line-up for Assembly Elections 2019

MUMBAI: CNN-News18 has announced extensive programming to apprise the viewers of all the major national and political developments during the elections. After the fierce battle in the Loksabha elections, major political parties have once again geared up for an intense political contest in...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Network18 subscription revenue sees 43% YoY growth in Q2 FY20

Network18 Media and Investment has posted 43 per cent YoY growth in subscription revenue in Q2 2020, continuing the 48 per cent growth YoY witnessed in Q1. The company’s digital revenues grew by 10 per cent YoY to Rs 46 crore. Sharp display advertising growth in (especially vernacular)...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
BARC week 40: Dangal most watched channel across genres

Two channels – Enterr 10 Television’s free to air (Free or FTA) Hindi GEC Dangal and the Sun Tv Network’s flagship Tamil GEC Sun TV having been vying for the top slot in Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC) weekly lists of Top 10 Channels across genres as mentioned by us earlier.

Television TV Channels Viewership
SPN’s Neville Bastawalla on ‘massification’ of niche sports and Australian Open broadcast extension

Sony Pictures Networks India’s (SPN) sports segment is highly focusing on niche segments and so Tennis Australia and SPN have extended their broadcast deal by three years at the official Australian Open 2020 media launch.

Television TV Channels Sports

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories