Bachchan-DD Kisan row: Ministry seeks report from Prasar Bharati
After reports emerged that Amitabh Bachchan was roped in by Doordarshan (DD) Kisan for Rs 6.31 crore to endorse the channel, the Information and Broadcasting ministry has sought a report from Prasar Bharati to clear the confusion over the issue of payments to the star.
"The ministry wants to know, the process through which the decision was taken and whether due diligence was done," a senior ministry official said today.
Prasar Bharati sources, when asked about the ministry decision to seek a report, however, said that a report may be sent to the Board of the public broadcaster first which would then take a call on the future course to be adopted.
Sources said that Additional Secretary in the Ministry J S Mathur, who is a member of the Prasar Bharati Board, in an email to CEO Jawhar Sircar raised questions about the processes followed.
Mathur has written that "bypassing the (Internal Finance Division(IFD) of Prasar Bharati, the contracted amount of Rs 8 plus crore has been reportedly released to the Ad agency through some procedure without requisite approvals at Prasar Bharati level."
Mathur emphasised that no contract proposal for publicity of DD Kisan channel with the said advertising firm was discussed or approved at the Prasar Bharati board meeting.
"The matter requires to be seriously looked into immediately and responsibility fixed to ensure that all matters in Kisan channel and Doordarshan remain absolutely above board," Mathur said in his email.
Meanwhile, a company spokesperson for Lintas, the advertising agency said that DD Kisan had formally authorised them on March 31, 2015 to negotiate on their behalf with Bachchan's office.
"This was gone about with utmost transparency amongst all three parties involved. After much negotiation, Mr Bachchan's office on 12.05.15, sent communication to Lintas on the fee approval. Post receipt of this communication from Mr Bachchan's office, we sent the necessary paperwork to DD Kisan who then went ahead with the processing and release of the payment to Lintas," the company said.