| 24 Sep 2023
Reducing targets no solution, Prasar Bharati needs to lead as pubcaster: Parl Committee

NEW DELHI: The utilization of Internal and Extra Budgetary Resources for New Content Development Scheme of Prasar Bharati generated by Prasar Bharati during the entire 12th Five Year Plan shows that the expenditure made was more than the revenue generated during 2014-15 and 2015-16, a Parliamentary Committee has noted.

The Committee noted that the expenditure made during 2015-16 through IEBR has exceeded the net revenue generated by Prasar Bharati on account of lower revenue generation. The net revenue generated by Prasar Bharati had declined from Rs 12.6712 billion in 2015-16 to Rs 8.5733 billion in 2016-17.

Gross Budgetary Support may replace IEBR for content development

Noting that this is mainly on account of increasing expenditure on Other Administrative Expenditure (OAE) head, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology which also examines issues relating to Information and Broadcasting Ministry noted that the Government is considering a proposal for earmarking Gross Budgetary Support (GBS) for this scheme.

The IEBR for the Scheme was approved by erstwhile Planning Commission for the Twelfth Plan Period (2012-2017) only, the Committee was informed.

It was also told that the Ministry had made sincere efforts to reduce the OAE expenditure which had declined during 2016-17.

But the Committee took “serious note” of the fact that the Ministry was not able to achieve the gross revenue projections during the entire 12th Five Year Plan and had reduced its gross revenue projection in 2016-17 citing reasons that falling short of achieving the set target was adversely affecting the morale of the sales/marketing teams and therefore proving counter-productive.

AIR shows growth trend, DD shows decline in commercial revenues

When the Committee asked why the net revenue generation by Prasar Bharati had been declining since 2014-15, it was informed by the Ministry that the trend of Commercial revenue earnings of All India Radio is indicating growth whereas the revenue earnings from sharing of its Resources mainly with private radio operators are marginally declining.

This shortfall of revenue took place in 2016-17 due to shifting of rotation of issuing of invoices to financial year 2017-18 for 84 private FM Channels due to the process adopted in getting technical/site clearances for 84 channels and handing over the same to M/s BECIL/Private FM Broadcasters.

However in Doordarshan, the main factors of decline in revenue are stated to be tremendous increase in competition in advertisement with private entertainment channels, development of new media platforms etc.

Some formidable steps have been taken by Prasar Bharati to improve its revenue like auctioning of time slots on DD-National channel; strengthening of sales and marketing teams of AIR and Doordarshan, including induction of sales/marketing professionals; tie-ups with e-commerce sites for better monetization of AIR/DD archive products etc.

IEBR not going towards salary

The Committee also noted that Prasar Bharati was not spending its IEBR on excess paid for salary and excess paid for Plan Schemes since 2015-16. This is because the Cabinet decision of 14 September 2012 had said that the Government is to provide support to Prasar Bharati for meeting 100% expenses towards salary and salary related expenses. In addition to this, the Cabinet decided that the Government would provide funds in the form of Grant-in-Aid to Prasar Bharati for creation of Capital Assets.

MIB asked to strengthen marketing to compete with private channels

The Committee was of the opinion that considering the broad mandate of the Ministry, “reducing gross revenue projections will not solve the purpose and the Ministry needs to raise the bar of its sales and marketing teams so that the public broadcaster can sustain vis-à-vis private channels.”

In the light of the challenges faced by AIR and DD in the fast changing media developments, the Committee recommended that Prasar Bharati continue with their efforts of revenue generation and also frame a strategy to lead the competition as a public broadcaster.

The Committee also recommended that steps be taken by Prasar Bharati to digitalize the vast archives of AIR and DD and generate revenue by making use of the rich archives. Efforts should also be made towards making these archives more accessible to the public. The Committee said it would like to be informed about the decision taken in respect of financing New Content Development Scheme of Prasar Bharati.