House panel slams I&B Ministry for its 'non-serious' approach to Prasar Bharati

A Parliamentary Standing Committee has criticised the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for its "non-serious" approach on issues pertaining to Prasar Bharati, saying such attitude towards the public broadcaster is "unacceptable".

The Committee was responding to the action taken report (ATR) on recommendations and observations made in its 46th report. Observing that functional and operative autonomy of Prasar Bharati had been diluted because of various provisions of Prasar Bharati Act and shortage of staff, the Committee recommended the ministry to address concerns like help in grant of service tax exemption, directives to all ministries/PSUs to extensively use AIR and Doordarshan for releasing publicity campaigns and waiver of space segment and spectrum charges for uninterrupted allocation of frequency to AIR/DD.

It took exception to the fact that the I&B ministry has responded to all suggestions with a one-liner, "recommendation noted for compliance".

"Such a generalised response is unacceptable as it reflects the non-serious approach of the ministry to issues concerning Prasar Bharati," the Committee chaired by Rao Inderjit Singh noted. The Committee also noted that despite a directive that the ministry pursue with the Sam Pitroda Committee the matter of early submission of their report for reviewing institutional framework of Prasar Bharati and its relationship with the government, the ministry shifted the onus of pursuing it on Prasar Bharati.

"...the action taken reply of the ministry is completely silent on the ways and means through which the ministry plans to maintain a delicate balance so that Prasar Bharati enjoys fair autonomy while fulfilling its role of a public broadcaster... the committee desires that the ministry should look into this vital aspect and inform the committee of the concrete action taken," reads the report.

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