Soon, you can walk into the capital’s iconic Aakashvani Bhawan for withdrawing money from ATMs. Or drive into a Doordarshan Kendra to refuel your car.
With real estate belonging to Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) stations now under its control, cash-strapped Prasar Bharati (PB) is planning to lease out prime space for making enough revenue to pull itself out of the red.
Amid efforts to reduce subsidies and the fiscal deficit, the Centre recently approved a restructuring plan for the public broadcaster, including transfer of all land rights and properties spread over 341 stations and 1,821 transmission tower areas to it.
“There is hardly any major city that doesn’t have a PB property at its prime location. We will lease these spaces out for public utility services and billboards. Later, we might develop these properties through joint ventures, but without selling them,” PB CEO Jawhar Sircar said.
According to an internal valuation, PB’s real estate in four top cities is worth R57,071 crore. “The market value of all our properties would easily cross R1.5 lakh crore,” said an official.
“Finance minister P Chidambaram and I&B minister Ambika Soni has helped us make a fresh beginning. Now, we need to plan on mopping up an additional revenue of R400 crore annually,” Sircar said.
Though the Centre decided to foot PB’s salary-related expenses for the next five years, besides waiving off interests, the broadcaster will still have to meet operational expenses and search for new sources of revenue.