GoM puts cess on TV and radio sets on hold


New Delhi : The Group of Ministers (GOM) on Prasar Bharati Wednesday decided to put on hold a move to impose license fees or cess on radio and TV sets to enable the public broadcaster become financially viable.

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The first indication of this came with Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi denying that there was a move to impose such a cess.

"I emphatically and categorically deny that there is any plan to impose licence fee or cess either on radio or TV sets," he said.

The meeting chaired by Home Minister Shivraj V. Patil came amid reports that the government was considering various options of raising revenue for Prasar Bharati, including levying an annual licence fee of Rs.500 on TV viewers and a one-time cess on those buying colour TV sets.

This meeting had been postponed thrice with the last one on July 3 due to Patil being pre-occupied.

Prasar Bharati had submitted a set of proposals for consideration by the GoM to beef up its resources as – with 40,000-odd employees – it is currently heavily dependent on government grants.

The public broadcaster has been incurring an annual expenditure of about Rs.20 billion, of which about Rs.12 billion comes as grant-in-aid from the government.

The public broadcaster has been asking for more grants to carry out its social obligations like increasing the number of programmes on subjects like education, health and environment.

This is the last meeting of the GoM since the government has to take an early decision on the matter in view of the case coming up for further hearing in the Supreme Court early next month. In early February, the apex court had asked the government to take a final view in six months. Consequently, the matter had been referred to a high-level Committee of Officers.