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Help Fixing the broadcast
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That it costs Prasar Bharati double the price private channels pay to run their direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting will surprise few. The rationale of a public service broadcaster has itself never become clear to the public (and there are now Parliament channels as well!); for it to also run a technology platform to compete with others is just a plain bad idea. Prasar Bharati was the first broadcaster to have deployed the DTH platform, almost a decade ago, but it failed to hold on to the first-mover’s advantage. There was no indication at the time that the DTH move was the result of any business plan. Since it insisted on keeping the platform free, only the free-to-air channels could be taken on board. As those channels developed traction, they became pay channels and moved out of the public broadcaster’s orbit. So the FE report that Prasar Bharati plans to bid out the management of its DTH operations to private players is good news. As of now the government pays over 71% of the expenditure of the broadcaster, effectively a subsidy. For this fiscal, the amount is R1,484 crore. In addition, it will make available another R380 crore for investment. Allowing private parties to manage the operation and technical maintenance will mean the corporation can stop hiring employees to manage these services and possibly also look at redundancy.

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