New Delhi: As part of the on-going turf war between the Information & Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati, the former has sent a letter reminding the pub-caster that it had not replied to any of the ministry’s eight letters since November 2017 that was related to the carriage of private satellite channels on DD Freedish. With this letter the ministry has invoked the Prasar Bharati Act to seek information from the public broadcaster.
The letter sent by I&B ministry to Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati on Tuesday said that it has been observed that DD Free Dish was subsiding private channels/serial producers, going against Union Cabinet’s approval. The letter also said delay at the level of making changes in the policy from Prasar Bharati’s side was adding to the DD losses on a daily basis.
Reminding the broadcaster that it had not replied to any of the ministry’s eight letters since November 2017, a senior ministry official, in a strongly-worded letter, said DD Free Dish was offering channels for as low as Rs 6-8 crore which did not cover the cost per channel and which, as per Prasar Bharati’s estimates, comes to Rs 250 crore per channel.
In each of the letters sent to Prasar Bharati, the ministry has reminded the broadcaster that channels, after paying Rs 6-8 crore, are slated to earn Rs 500- 700 crore and consists of names such as Sony Mix, Star Bharat and Zee Anmol which should not qualify for subsidy.
The ministry has also reminded the public broadcaster about the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal order dated 27th October, which advised Prasar Bharati to carry out a comprehensive review of the policy on DD Free Dish.
The ministry’s letter invoked Section 24 of Prasar Bharati Act, stating that “ under the power of central government to obtain information that the government may require the corporation to furnish information that the government considers necessary.” Prasar Bharati officials declined to comment on the story.