To move CCI against TAM's TV ratings system

With the Cabinet deciding to spare Prasar Bharati the crippling double burden of multiple loans and a huge salary bill, the public broadcaster is going all out on an aggressive marketing drive to leverage its newly transferred assets in order to rake in the needed additional revenue of Rs. 400 crore per year.

The Prasar Bharati board, which met on Wednesday, has also decided to approach the Competition Commission of India with a complaint against TAM India’s television audience ratings. It complained that TAM — which has a monopoly in this field — does not give sufficient representation to Doordarshan’s unmatched reach, especially in rural India. The resultant skew in ratings adversely affects its advertising revenue, it says.

Earlier this month, the Cabinet approved a proposal to restructure Prasar Bharati’s finances. Loans, interests and fines to the tune of Rs. 12,071-crore were waived or converted into grants.

The Centre also promised to meet all the salary expenses, while emphasising that the autonomous corporation would have to meet all other operating expenses from its own internal revenue.

“Since its inception, Prasar Bharati has been beset with financial issues due to loans and interests. This was adversely affecting its growth and efficient functioning as an autonomous organisation,” said Prasar Bharati chief executive Jawhar Sircar. “Cabinet’s decision has helped us clear our account book and allowed us to start on a clean slate.”

The public broadcaster’s annual operational budget could go up to Rs. 2000-crore, while current revenue is hovering around the Rs. 1600-crore mark. Accordingly, Rs. 400-crore per month needs to be generated through new revenue streams.

Since the Cabinet approved the transfer of numerous properties and infrastructure across the country — radio stations, television kendras, transmitters — to Prasar Bharati, the Prasar Bharati Board has decided to leverage these new assets to earn more money. Professional marketing executives will be hired at market salary levels in order to help the public broadcaster come up with innovative revenue generation plans.

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