The issue of funding Prasar Bharati Corporation — either through levying licence fee on new TV sets, advertising revenue or government support — will soon be decided.
A group of ministers headed by Home Minister Shivraj Patil has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to come up with a plan on the issue, which will then be taken up by the Cabinet. “A comprehensive proposal should be worked out on priority by the I&B Ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Finance for consideration of the Cabinet,” said the GoM.
The I&B Ministry has been stating Prasar Bharati should be allowed to charge licence fees on TV sets, as provided in the Prasar Bharati Act, or a cess of Rs 500 on new sets. The proposal, however, has been opposed by the Finance Ministry.
But I&B officials are optimistic that issues concerning funding will be sorted out with the Finance Ministry soon. The I&B Ministry is also formulating a proposal to grant deemed status to Prasar Bharati employees even though Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has termed it a very “bad option”.
“A long-term solution will have to be found eventually under which either the employees will have to accept absorption in Prasar Bharati and have full loyalty to that organization or Prasar Bharati itself may be scrapped,” Chidambaram had told the GoM meeting on October 5. However, the GoM instructed the I&B Ministry to propose amendments to section 11 of the Prasar Bharati Act and Department of Personnel and Training to amend Section 37 (a) of the pension rules so that Prasar Bharati employees can get deemed deputation status.
The GoM has also given the ministry the go-ahead to consider an ordinance to make the amendments effective once cleared by Cabinet.