A cut in allocations to the information and broadcasting ministry is unlikely in the budgetary estimates for 2001-02. This, despite the Geethakrishnan panel report suggesting the ministry cut the flab by closing some of the media units.
In the Budget estimates for the year 2000-01, the I&B ministry’s total outlay was Rs 1,384 crore, out of which Rs 270 crore was under plan and Rs 1,114 crore under non-plan heads.
The grant-in-aid given to Prasar Bharati would not be cut by much. Last year, it had been indicated that Prasar Bharati should reduce its dependence on government and start tapping resources to raise revenue on its own, especially through Doordarshan. Doordarshan, for the year 1999-2000, had touched a record Rs 610 crore in revenues.
Explaining the continuance of the level of grant-in-aid, the I&B ministry said DD was majorly focussing on the North-East and needed support for setting up infrastructure. Last year, DD had also launched the Kashmiri channel.
The consultative committee of MPs attached to the I&B ministry on Thursday reviewed the Geetakrishnan report, and the overwhelming view was that most of the units suggested for the chopping block had been performing well.
The MPs were of the view that in a country like India where less than one-third of the population has access to TV, winding up of organisations like the directorate of field publicity and the song & dance division would mean denying the masses a vital source of information, education and entertainment.