First uploaded on 03-05-2010
In a democratic country like India, media has to play an important role in
the functioning of the democracy. A democracy can not be a true democracy
unless all its citizens are well informed about the political, social and
economic developments around them and able to form unbiased opinions and
able to take their own informed decisions freely and fairly in elections and
other democratic practices of the country. Due to this reason only we often
call media or press the fourth pillars of democracy or the fourth estate.
of Direct & Complete
Funding to AIR & DD.
By:Joseph Martin C.J
Recently a prominent journalist of our time and Magsasay award winner P.
Sainath while commenting on the degradation of media in recent times
lamented that 4th Estate has become real estate now a days. Commercial media
particularly commercial broadcasters of our country reached such a pathetic
condition that all enlightened citizens of this great country are more and
more becoming aware and started thinking about the adverse consequences it
may have on all spheres of social sphere (life), and also to the
democratic fabric of our country.
recent developments (happenings) in the media are allowed to continue
unchecked and unregulated we need to doubt that, are we heading to an era
of Corporate democracy instead of citizens democracy as visualized by the
founders of the constitution of our country.
Recently our Nation witnessed a series of discussions about the Paid news
culture as alleged by most of our political parties & other organizations
in the last general elections. The editor’s guild of India condemned it.
The Hon’bl Vice president of India also criticised it. Some of the leaders
of the National political parties even demanded EC to declare the paid news
culture as electoral malpractices.
better functioning of our democracy, the need and necessity of a National
Media (in the sense it reaches to all citizens of this nation) not
controlled by and independent of corporate and other market forces has
become evident from the recent developments in the media world.
involves huge capital expenditure and it needs capital for its operation and
maintenance also .It is quite natural that there will be motive of profit
in any capital involved business. But there needs to be limit to the greed
of our media houses. We cant expect much good from the private
commercial broadcasters which is controlled by and dependent on the
vested corporate and market forces to the ideal or better functioning of
our democracy and for its citizens.
But the democratically elected government of this
country is bound to give its citizens a National Media which t is not
controlled by and not dependent on the greedy market and corporate forces.
For any media organization to be effective in its functioning the source of
its funding is very important.
India Radio and Doordarshan is in its cross roads considering the fact that
the re - constituted GOM has taken decisions regarding one of the most
important thing “ the funding pattern of Prasar Bharati and its financial
& capital restructuring .
the pre –globalisation era the biggest threat to the proper functioning
media in general and All India Radio and Doordarshan in particular was
political in nature .But now that scenario changed drastically .Now the
real threat is from the greedy capitalist and market forces. In this changed
scenario we need to consider the latest Group of Ministers (GOM)
financial & capital restructuring of All India Radio and Doordarshan (Prasar
Bharati) .The financial & capital restructuring of All India Radio and
Doordarshan there in the agenda of the previous GOM also. The Group of
Ministers (GOM) on its meeting held on 31st August 2006 had discussed about
issuing public shares of Rs.4800 Crores of PB to cover its losses.
The newly constituted GOM held a meet on 16-04-2010. According to media
reports the main agenda of that meet was to discuss about tapping the
capital market and other financial institutions for generating funds on its
own, for funding AIR & DD.The GOM meet held
16-04-2010 has decided to cap the Center's annual financial support to
Prasar Bharati at 50 per cent of its operating expenses, and to transfer all
property and assets to its books at the cost they were originally acquired.
“It will be
for Prasar Bharati to fend for itself and raise the balance 50 per cent of
operating expenses through internal and extra budgetary resources over the
next five years,” an official told the press. The element of state financial
support will be further curtailed after 2014-15, the official added. Finance
Ministry officials present at the meeting said the decisions take effect
from the current fiscal 2010-11 and will be reviewed after five years.
On 09.03.2010, Hon’ble Minister of State for I&B Shri. Mohan Jatua,
tabled in the Lok Sabha the following statement ,
regarding the details of income, expenditure and gap in income
expenditure of All India Radio & Doordarshan for the last
four years as under:
(STARRED QUESTION NO .166 ANSWERED ON 09.03.2010 in the LOK SABHA
,link to the statement
.For our readers convenience we are
attaching the above said statement in the annexure of this article.
Expenditure & Income
Amount in Crore of Rupees,For the year 2009-10 figures are provisional.
is evident that Prasar Bharati was not able to generate
50% of its operating expense in the last four financial years .In this
scenario how and from where the remaining money (Gap
Between Expenditure & Income) will be raised?.
The public broadcaster would now have to tap the capital market and other
financial institutions for generating funds (funds for
the Gap Between Expenditure & Income) ,since it
may not be possible by All India Radio and
Doordarshan to generate the 50% of the operating expenses while maintaining the
programming quality and dignity of the National & Public Service
Broadcaster of a democratic country.
The decision of the GOM
is bound to have a long-term negative impact on the
financial health of Prasar Bharati and its effective
If it is implemented the National broadcaster & Public Service Broadcaster
of this democratic country may become a public limited company and will
become, just a tool in the hands of market forces and the immediate step
may be disinvestment by government of India. If shares of PB floated in
the market , it will become a entity solely at the mercy of market
forces which will defeat the very fundamental objective of the National &
Public Service Broadcaster. It is a move totally against the interest of the
entire Nation and its democracy, and against the genuine interest of the
funding pattern that existed in All India Radio and Doordarshan changed
in April 2000 as per the MOU signed by two IAS officers – the then secretary
of MIB and the then CEO Prasar Bharati , (who was also holding the post of
additional Secretary in I&B). Due to this MOU only the present funding
pattern of grant in aid and loan from GOI came in Prasar Bharati. It is
true that grant in aid and loan from GOI was there in section 17 of the
act, But it needs to be understood clearly that the main source of funding
as per PB act was the so called License fee from
television and radio set owners
and not grant in aid or loan
from government of India.
In 2007 the Group of Ministers (GOM) , headed by then Home Minister Shivraj
Patil had considered the I&B ministry recommendation to charge license fee.
But due to the strong opposition from finance ministry and from opposition
parties and also from the Consumer Electronic and Appliances Manufacturers
Association this recommendation of the I&B ministry had been rejected by the
GOM. The I&B ministry then wanted a block payment from the government to
make up for this loss (due to the never charged license fee), which may have
helped the corporation to become financially self-reliant , just as the
Memorandum of Understanding between Prasar Bharati and the ministry
Actually there is no difference between funding of AIR & DD by
the license fee collected and the direct funding by the government.
License fee is directly collected from the television & radio owners
for a particular cause (for funding Public Broadcaster). But in the case of
direct funding the money is from a common fund .But that common fund also is
collected from us only, directly or indirectly, Both are taxpayers money
One of the argument in favour of of license fee is the concept that
the direct funding may affect the independence and autonomy of the Public
Broadcaster. The advocates of license fee think that the direct funding will
make direct influence of the government . If that argument is to be believed
how we can say that our constitutional bodies (eg. judiciary, Election
Commission..etc.) are independent, because they are also directly
funded by the government. So The very argument that the direct funding by
the government may effect the independence and autonomy of an
organaisation is a biased view only. Please read the article
License Fee and Direct funding of the
for more views in this
Being the national media with vast reach, All India Radio and Doordarshan have been playing a pivotal role as instruments of social and
economic developments besides playing a great role in national integration
and entertaining the people ,even in the border areas and in the remotest
12-1 of the Prasar Bharati act says that it shall be the primary duty of the
corporation to organize and conduct public service broadcasting services to
inform ,educate ,and entertain the public and to ensure a balanced
development of radio & television. Section 12.2 (b) to 12.2(p) of the act
defines the duties of Public Service Broadcaster and 12.2(a )defines the
duties of the national broadcaster for upholding the unity and integrity of
the country and the values enriched in the constitution.
is a fact that most of the countries in the world are maintaining their
National Broadcasters for protecting the interests of the respective
countries. Going by the global trend in other democratic countries
All India Radio and Doordarshan, being the National & Public Service
Broadcaster, need to be completely and directly funded by the government to
discharge its duties as the National & Public Service Broadcaster.
view of the multidimensional Socio – cultural fabric of our nation , the
age old broadcasting organizations All India Radio and Doordarshan, which
have discharged the duties towards the National Integration , preservation
of art & culture , socio-economic and agricultural development of the
nation should not be left to the mercy of the market forces.
Successive governments of this country had allocated lakhs of cores of
rupees to the social sector for the all round development of the
underprivileged, illiterates citizens majority of whom are living in the
remote areas of our country where even electricity is not reached. Govt.
needs a medium to propagate its developmental schemes, envisaged for the
underprivileged, illiterate citizens of our nation . In fact
All India Radio and Doordarshan is the only medium government can be used
effectively for this purposes, considering All India Radio and
Doordarshan’s pan Indian presence. In
this sense, the AIR can be served as a bridge between the policy-makers and
the people for whom the policies were framed
democratic government should consider the National & Public Service
Broadcaster in social sector only. Against this ideal concept the successive
governments of this country has forced All India Radio and Doordarshan to
generate its own revenue for its operations even by neglecting the mandate
given by the Parliament of this country to All India Radio and Doordarshan
to inform educate & entertain the public. But it goes with out telling that
while performing the noble duties of the National & Public Service
Broadcaster of this democratic country, It will not be possible by
All India Radio and Doordarshan to generate its revenues just like a
private commercial broadcaster.
major section of employees who whole heartedly welcomed the formation of
Prasar Bharati now demands for the repeal of the Prasar Bharati act due to
the main reason that Prasar Bharati is not financially viable in the present
situation as it is proved beyond doubt. The apprehension of the above
section of employee is confirmed by the fact that even the Prasar Bharati
Corporation demanded for the full government funding for All India Radio
and Doordarshan to enable them to perform their role as a public broadcaster
& National broadcaster. The Prasar Bharati Board conveyed its views on this
issue to the Parliamentary Consultative committee which held its meeting at
New Delhi on Feb 19,2010.
According to sources, the Prasar Bharati told the Parliamentary panel that
if it is made to depend on commercial programming for its funding, its
mandate as public broadcaster would be affected. This should be an eye
opener for those section of employees who demands for the complete
implementation of Prasar Bharati Act with out considering its financial
But the employees demanding for the Repeal of the Prasar Bharati
act should not forget the fact that through this Act only All India Radio
and Doordarshan got the mandate of the parliament to inform , educate and
entertain the public as Public Service Broadcaster and as National
Broadcaster for upholding the unity and integrity of the country and the
values enriched in the constitution of this country. But the capitalist &
market forces influencing or controlling All India Radio and Doordarshan
directly or indirectly will be the worst that can happen to All India Radio
and Doordarshan,than anything else.
In both situations (AIR & DD under the direct control of the
government or under Prasar Bharati)
direct and completing funding of All India Radio and Doordarshan by the
government is the pre-requisite for its effective functioning as a true
Public Service Broadcaster and National Broadcaster of this largest
democratic country in the world.
Annexure:1,Statement of the Hon’ble Minister of State for I&B Shri. Mohan Jatua
regarding the details of income, expenditure and gap in income& expenditure
of AIR & DD.
Thank you for your interest.||||||