The 24-hour satellite channel on Lok Sabha is all set to see the light of day from the second half of the Budget session, Bhaskar Ghose, former I&B Secretary and Chief Executive, Lok Sabha TV, said. Thus, the channel is expected to go on air on May 10, when the House meets again after a break on March 22.
“The channel is scheduled to start on a modest scale with the second part of the Budget session and be fully operational during the monsoon session of Parliament,” Ghose said.
The channel, named Lok Sabha, is being funded by the Lower House of Parliament.
When asked whether the channel would run like any other commercial channel, Ghose said that the channel won’t seek commercials, but would have sponsorships from public sector companies for certain programmes.
Apart from carrying the proceedings of the House, the channel will also have other programmes like discussions, documentaries, and interviews with celebrities in various walks of lives. The channel would also feature special programmes on ex-MPs and great debates in Parliament, Ghose informed.
When asked about the need for a separate entity when there was a public broadcaster in place, Ghose replied, “Even today the live telecasts by Doordarshan are done at the request of and on behalf of the Lok Sabha. Now Lok Sabha has decided to have its own channel. So, I don’t see any conflict of interest with Prasar Bharati.”
When asked whether the channel would sell the feed of the Parliament to the public and private broadcasters, Ghose said, “No decision has been taken on this matter as yet.” On allowing political parties to use the forum for propaganda during election times, Ghose said a decision in this regard had to be taken by the Lok Sabha Speaker.
Developed countries like the US, Canada and the UK do have such channels for exclusive coverage of House proceedings. C-SPAN of the US (Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network) has three channels for coverage of House of Representatives, Senate and other live events and archived historical programming. It also has a radio station called C-SPAN Radio for public affairs coverage.
Canada’s CPAC (Cable Public Affairs Channel) also broadcasts proceedings of the House of Commons. BBC Parliament channel also telecasts the complete proceedings of both Houses of Parliament. But Ghose affirmed that Lok Sabha channel was not modelled on any one of these and that it was a unique one.
Rajya Sabha is also mulling a similar channel on the lines of Lok Sabha TV.