DELHI: Private broadcasters and big MSOs in the country might soon be called to
lend a helping hand in the financial restructuring of pubcaster Prasar Bharati.
to one of the options relating to funding of Prasar Bharati, suggested by a government
panel, a corpus can be created from contributions from the broadcast and cable
industry on the lines of the universal service obligation (USO) fund in the telecom
Five per cent of a private telecom operator's annual revenues go
towards the USO fund, which is used to finance new rural telephony projects identified
by the government.The panel on Prasar Bharatis
financial restructuring has suggested that private broadcasters and MSOs can be
asked to contribute between 5-10 per cent of their annual revenues for a USO fund-type
corpus, which can be used to support the over 45,000 workforce of the pubcaster.
Bharati, which manages Doordarshan and All India Radio, is in the middle of a
debate over ways to augment its earnings.
This recommendation, along with
others in a nearly 300-page report, is being presently studied by a group of ministers
(GoM) before the issue is taken to the Union Cabinet for a formal okay.The GoM met briefly last
week, information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told Indiantelevision.com.
He did not give any time frame on taking the Prasar Bharati matter to the Cabinet.
industry players observe whether there would be increased accountability of Prasar
Bharati if a USO fund is created via private sector players contribution
to partly fund pubcasters activities. More importantly, whether the funds
would be properly used.
According to Hindu Business Line, of the Rs 107.53
billion collected by the government from telecom companies in the form of USO
fund since its inception in 2002-03, a staggering Rs. 70 billion is yet to be
The newspaper quoted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
as saying that undisbursed amount is estimated to cross Rs 250 billion by 2010
against a total collection of Rs. 375 billion, which means only 48 per cent of
the fund is expected to be utilised for extending telephone services in the rural
areas. The numbers assume significance even as the digital divide between rural
and urban is ever increasing.
Meanwhile, letting the pubcaster tap the capital
markets and levying a cess on sale of every TV and radio set in the country are
amongst some of the other options suggested by the committee on financial rejig
of Prasar Bharati.
Though Prasar Bharati closed FY 2006 with record-breaking revenues
of over Rs 12 billion, its expenses are so huge that the government
is finding it difficult to bridge the chasm between income and expenditure.
financial rejig awaits GoM nod
Bharati financial rejig near completion
Bharati revenue likely to cross Rs 10 billion in FY 2006
Bharati: Government mulls capital restructuring