In response to the KP Geethakrishnan’s Expenditure Reform Commission’s second report recommending rationalisation in I&B Ministry, the Information & Broadcasting Ministry in its reply to the Finance Ministry, has decided to retain the media units with some modification in their structure and re-orientation of the staff.
With the deadline of July 31 drawing near, the I&B Ministry’s reply is of significance as the Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, in his Union Budget speech, had given various ministries time till July 31 to meet the recommendations of the ERC. The role of media units under the I&B Ministry has been under ERC scrutiny.
The ministry is likely to convey its views that the Geethakrishnan Committee proceeded to examine the role of various media units without holding any consultations with the media heads. The finance ministry may also be told that ERC made an unrealistic assessment of the role of these media units.
The ministry is expected to emphasise the fact that it has the responsibility of disseminating information related to government policies to the masses and getting their feedback. And that it performs the task efficiently with the help of a very small budget provision.
The reply is likely to contain a reference to Prasar Bharati. Prasar Bharati accounts for 85 per cent of the budget provisions, leaving very little for print and film media sectors.
Also, any effort at shifting the responsibility to other agencies to cut cost will be counter-productive, the I&B ministry is expected to say.