Parlarimentary panel seeks autonomy for Prasar Bharati

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New Delhi, Jul 23 (UNI) Stating that nothing has gone right with Prasar Bharati since its inception in 1997, a Parliamentary panel has urged the Centre to empower the public broadcaster with rule-making powers to enable it function "independently and effectively".

Parliamentary standing committee in its 60th report on information and technology said Prasar Bharati should be vested with powers on service conditions, salary and allowances and investment of fund so as to make the public broadcasting corporation an autonomous institution.

The government defended keeping all these powers with itself because of the corporation's over-dependence on the government for funds, the panel said, adding the public broadcaster can not generate sufficient revenue to run its operations.

About 70 per cent of funds are provided to Prasar Bharati by the government under plan and non-plan expenditure, the government said.

The panel expressed it dissatisfaction with "the sorry state of affairs in which Prasar Bharati has been rendered into due to continuous inaction of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in sorting out its problem".

It said even after a decade, basic things like organisational, capital and financial restructing, personnel matters and service conditions are in a state of uncertainty and confusion, causing incalucable damage to the organisation in the public broadcasting service.

The committee held the view there is no reason why Prasar Bharati can not generate adequate revenue or develop a self-sustaining funding pattern, even while performing the role of the public serivce broadcaster if given autonomy in the truest sense of the term.

Headed by Mr Nikhil Kumar, the panel urged the and Ministry to get the required funds allocated to enable the corporation and achieve its target of digitisation of All India Radio and Doordarshan by 2017.

The Ministry informed the committee that the Planning Commission has proposed allocation of Rs 955 crore as against Rs 3,145 crore sought by the AIR to complete digitisation of its network of radio stations across the country in the 11th plan. Doordarshan's demand of Rs 1,166 crore to achieve the digitisation target, also by 2017, has been reduced to just Rs 250 crore. In view of reduced allocation of fund, the Ministry said it would be difficult to achieve the target.

Underlining the urgent need to migrate from terrestrial to digital transmission to improve the quality of transmission, the parliamentary panel urged the Ministry to seek more funds from the Finance Ministry.

Also expressing dissatisfaction over vacancies in the board of Prasar Bharati, the panel said key post of executive member is still lying vacant. The posts of director-generals of the AIR and Doordarshan, who are ex-officio members of the board, have also not been filled up. No representative of employee, too, has been elected to the board, the panel noted.

The parliamentary panel wondered how Prasar Bharati would be able to discharge its responsibilities when its board is kept "in limbo indefinitely".

UNI SAA SW RN1857

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