It is about cashing in on star value. Bollywood superstar, Amitabh Bachchan who endorses colas, paints and banking products, will now be a brand ambassador for Doordarshan.
He is slated to appear in 10 Doordarshan campaigns as part of settlement of the Rs 12.52 crore interest payable to Prasar Bharati Corporation. Prasar Bharati board, which met here today, took the decision on the basis of a proposal pending with it.
The Big B's company, Amitabh Bachchan Corporation Ltd (ABCL, now called AB Corp) owed the national broadcaster Rs 32 crore, of which, Rs 19.53 crore was the principal amount and the remaining Rs 12.52 crore was the interest.
While the principal amount was settled in 2001, it was decided that the interest would be liquidated in kind with Amitabh Bachchan either endorsing messages exclusively for Doordarashan or doing shows for the channel. With today's decision, each endorsement would be worth over Rs 1.25 crore.
According to sources, valuation of endorsements has been a ticklish issue with National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) initially being assigned the task. "Though Mr Bachchan endorses products of companies such as ICICI and Dabur, it was not possible to ascertain the exact value due to confidential clause. After some internal deliberations, it was decided the Mr Bachchan would talk about Doordarshan's reach in rural areas, its promotion of art and culture, music and archives, among other things," said sources.
The arrangement has been finalised after discussions between the public broadcaster and officials of AB Corp Ltd. Meanwhile, since the company's net worth has turned positive. AB Corp has written to the Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction seeking to exit from the SICA fold.
Besides this, the Board today also decided to set up a Prasar Bharati Europe Ltd, headquartered in the UK, to facilitate broadcasting of DD News and DD India on the BSkyB platform.
The Board also agreed to rationalise the advertising rate card for sponsored programmed during prime time.
"We will give the producers an option to pay a higher slot rate and get higher free-commercial time (FCT). Currently, producers pay Rs 3.5 lakh for a half-an hour slot and get 150 seconds of FCT," said sources.
The Board also approved a Planning Commission project on development of software on Indian classics, a digitisation project for DD Archives and a proposal to increase Doordarshan's soon to be launched direct-to-home (DTH) bouquet to 40 channels from the present 30 channels.
The new Information and Broadcasting Minister, Mr S. Jaipal Reddy, met the members of the Prasar Bharati board today.