The government prefers an exclusive communications agency, which could include television channels and radio stations, to publicise its policies and activities, information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said in New Delhi on Friday.
“Two-thirds of the ministry’s budget — Rs. 1885 crore of the Rs. 2800 crore — goes to Prasar Bharati. I am the recruiting authority, the disciplinary authority, the sanctioning authority. Yet, I am supposed to maintain an arm’s length. I am not God,” Tewari said.
He was speaking to a high-level panel headed by the PM’s innovations adviser Sam Pitroda, which has been asked to suggest a new model for Prasar Bharati. The committee may suggest placing Prasar Bharati, which controls the state-run Doorsharshan, under Parliament rather than the government, along the lines of the UK’s BBC.
This could pave the way for a new broadcaster that could be the government’s mouthpeice. ‘CAG’ model could be adopted for Prasar Bharati.
“If you want to take it out of the government’s ambit, Prasar Bharati can be directly accountable to Parliament. This will then allow me to have another full spectrum communication agency for airing the government’s viewpoint,” Tewari said.
When state broadcasters, which are essentially mouthpieces of the government, are made public broadcast services, they become more independent, according to the Asia-Pacific Institute for Broadcasting Development.