The government on Friday gave its approval to financial restructuring of Prasar Bharati, whereby the public broadcaster will from this year have to ensure its operating expenses other than salaries are met from revenue earnings. The government will meet all the expenses of Prasar Bharati towards salary and salary-related expenses from its non-plan account for five years from 2012-13 to 2016-17. These measures were a part of the proposal of the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry on financial restructuring of Prasar Bharati. The proposal was based on the recommendations of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on Prasar Bharati constituted under the chairmanship of the Home Minister, to examine various issues pertaining to the functioning of Prasar Bharati. The recommendations were given over a year earlier. The government will waive accumulated interest on loan-in-perpetuity, interest on capital loan and penal interest thereon. Loan-in-perpetuity and capital loans provided to Prasar Bharati will be converted into grants-in-aid. From now on, any plan capital support by the government to Prasar Bharati will be in the form of grants-in-aid and not in the form of loans.
The government has also agreed to waive accumulated arrears pertaining to spectrum charges up to 31 March 2011 amounting to Rs 13.49 billion. The property and assets will be transferred at book value to Prasar Bharati according to the provisions of Section 16(a) of the Prasar Bharati Act 1990. Normal accounting principles will be followed to determine their future value. The Director General of Audit, Central Revenues (DGACR) will continue to be the nodal auditor of Prasar Bharati and will be assisted by qualified commercial audit staff for the audit of the annual accounts.
Prasar Bharati has been grappling with financial and human resource/employee issues since its inception, which has adversely affected its functioning as an autonomous organisation. In view of the problems being faced by the public broadcaster, the GoM was constituted on 7 March 2006. The GoM was again reconstituted on 21 February 2011 which considered Prasar Bharati's future revenue earning potential given its public service broadcasting mandate, and made a number of recommendations for making it financially viable and sustainable.