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Indian government considers corporatising Prasar Bharati

India’s Information and Broadcasting (I&B) ministry is reportedly thinking of corporatising public broadcasting agency Prasar Bharti.

The move is apparently aimed to reduce its reliance on public funds and to give it more financial and decision-making independence. In January, Hindustan Times had reported that a panel of secretaries had made a presentation to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in which they recommended turning Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) into corporate entities and doing away with Prasar Bharati as a state property.

The ministry had asked Prasar Bharati for its feedback on the proposal.

Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body set up by an act of Parliament and runs AIR, which has 416 stations, and Doordarshan, which operates 23 TV channels. While all of its expenses are paid for by the central government, ad revenues have been steadily declining over the years.

Earlier this month, media professional Shashi Shekhar Vempati was appointed as the CEO of Prasar Bharti, the first time that a person who is not from the Indian Administrative Service has been selected to run the organisation.

Vempati is trying to modernise the public broadcaster, starting by upgrading its digital presence.The broadcaster’s website is being updated, content is being monetized and its IT system is being overhauled.