It seems to be a case of Prasar Bharati proposes and I&B Ministry disposes. It is all about the Prasar Bharati proposal for recruiting 6,000 additional staffers that has not found favour from the I&B Ministry. Ironically, On the contrary, the Ministry wants to trim down the workforce with the national broadcast watchdog.
Prasar Bharati CEO, KS Sarma made the case for new recruitments to tide over the severe staff shortage that is hampering the day-to-day operations of Doordarshan and All India Radio.
Currently, Prasar Bharati has a staff strength of 45,000 and it is facing serious shortage in programming, mostly in subordinate engineering services and transmission. “Over the last few years while our activities have gone up 900 times, there has been only 10 percent increase in the staff, resulting in a huge mismatch. This is evident from the fact that as many as 165 transmitters out of 1,300 units are running without staff. About two dozen ready projects have not been able to become operational due to non-availability of staff,” says Sarma.
The I&B Secretary had however recently called for downsizing of Prasar Bharati, based on the recommendations of Expenditure Reform Committee. Says Vijay Singh, Additional Secretary, I&B Ministry, “Obviously, we have a difference of opinion with Prasar Bharati. There is a clear case of reduction of staff in Prasar Bharati in certain staff categories which are bottom heavy”. Sarma, however, maintains that there is no case for downsizing.
The Ministry’s thoughts are also influenced by the fact that Prasar Bharati is already facing financial crunch. Against an annual expenditure of Rs 1,900 crore, Prasar Bharati is able to raise only Rs 600 crore worth of revenue, while the rest of the amount is funded by the government.
Sarma, however, firmly claims that Prasar Bharati is making efforts to push its commercial revenue income. “The first quarter performance is very promising, we have been able to double our revenue. Against last year’s revenue of Rs 38 crore in the first quarter, we have been able to earn Rs 75 crore this year. Even on the AIR front, the revenue has been increasing substantially. We have been able to push our revenue to Rs 140 crore in 2003-04, compared to Rs 80 crore in 2001-02. And this year, we hope to touch Rs 190 crore,” he says.
For the running financial year, Prasar Bharati has fixed a revenue target of Rs 190 crore for both Doordarshan and All India Radio.