The investment has been approved by FinMin and is a fresh attempt by the Centre to help the public broadcasters compete better with private television channels and radio stations
The country’s largest public broadcasters All India Radio (AIR) and Doordarshan (DD) are set to improve their infrastructure, expand their coverage and strengthen their content by investing Rs 850 crore for the purpose, according to a report by Hindustan Times.
The investment has been approved by the Finance Ministry and is a fresh attempt by the government to help the Prasar Bharti-owned public broadcasters compete better with private television channels and radio stations.
The sanctioned amount will be invested over FY19 and FY20.
AIR and DD have chalked out detailed plans to enhance their broadcast capacity, improve their infrastructure and increase the expanse of their coverage to match the reach of private TV and radio companies.
A Ministry of Information and Broadcast official told the newspaper that DD has been sanctioned Rs 200 crore exclusively for the purpose.
“As a public broadcaster, DD has the responsibility to air programmes and messages that are socially relevant, which private broadcasters don’t do. DD cannot put out programmes with a certain content that can be money-spinners for some private channels,” the official was quoted as saying.
“So the idea is to generate content that can grab eye-balls but still have a healthy mix of issues such as health, empowerment, environment and social justice,” the official said.
On December 4, it was reported that the Centre has started a manpower audit of Prasar Bharati, acting on the recommendation of an expert committee in 2014.
The Sam Pitroda-led committee had in 2014 recommended that Prasar Bharati ‘undertake a comprehensive manpower audit and human resources planning exercise to map workforce requirements for the future, in line with the public broadcaster’s mandate’.
Professional services company EY is in charge of the audit. The process is expected to get concluded in around six months.
The rationalisation of resources will likely include shutting down offices located in close proximity to each other, winding up the civil construction wing of AIR, and closing down the National Academy of Broadcasting and Multimedia (NABM) and merging it with the Indian Institute of Mass Communication.Prasar Bharati properties that have been impacted by technological obsolescence are also likely to be closed. However, NABM’s training programmes may not be shut down.