Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari on Friday said political discourse in the media had become too “corrosive”, rather the “critical”, and that the UPA government was “very much in the game”, referring to the upcoming elections.
He also said his ministry would “seriously” examine a new report that calls for freeing Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcaster, from the clutches of government control.
“Let there be no illusion. We are very much in the game,” Tewari said, adding: “A lot of game is still left to be played. A lot of people write us off. But we have a very bad habit of bouncing back.” He was speaking at a CII CEOs’ conference of broadcasting firms.
On the crucial recommendation of autonomy to Prasar Bharati, he said: “We will seriously, studiously and diligently examine the recommendations.”
The committee, headed by adviser to Prime Minister Sam Pitroda, has recommended a complete transfer of ownership of assets owned by Prasar Bharati and full control over manpower.
“What is meant by autonomy is freedom of options…freedom to take a call and be responsible (for it). For example, there are 350 acres of land in Delhi belonging to Prasar Bharati which pay Rs 6 or Rs 7 crore as taxes. If these are monetised, it could generate huge revenue,” Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar said.
Key recommendations include control over staff, full power to Prasar Bharati to utilise its assets the way it wanted to, such as prime real estate, as well as private investment in the broadcaster to raise revenues.