Public broadcasters Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) could become corporate entities if a proposal by a committee of government secretaries sees the light of the day. The top panel has told Prime Minister Narendra Modi to make DD and AIR corporate entities to reduce their dependence on government funds. If accepted, the move will give the two entities run by Prasar Bharati the much needed flexibility and financial independence, on the lines of the BBC.
In their January 3 presentation on the “transport and communication” sector, the panel — part of the 10 sectoral groups constituted by the PM to do a mid-term review of major programmes, review autonomous bodies and give ideas on the 2017-18 budget — also recommended reviewing the existence of Prasar Bharati, which runs AIR and Doordarshan. “If AIR and DD are made corporate entities, Prasar Bharati may not be required,” the panel told the PM.
Though Prasar Bharati was given autonomy under the statute, it hardly used it. From budgetary support for meeting its expenses to going to the Centre for getting approval for every decision including recruitment, power remained centralised in the information and broadcasting ministry. According to the I&B ministry’s figures, as against the revenue target of `1,600 crore, it managed to achieve `1,267 crore in 2015-16. Doordarshan garnered 900 -1000 GVL (gross viewership in lakhs) per week in 2016, far less compared to private TV channels.