According to reports, the channel has spent crores in four years without earning a penny. Will Modi’s minimum government make it more accountable?
Update: Updated on 9 April 2015 to include response from Rajya Sabha TV
The Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV), that was started by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat in 2011, has spent a whopping Rs1,700 crore without earning a penny over four years, says a report from Times of India.
According to the report, an inspection report from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), even before the channel become fully operational, Rajya Sabha TV's executive directors and executive editors spent Rs60 lakh on just travel till February 2012. Rajya Sabha TV was launched in 2011, but become operational only in May 2012.
However, in a statement, Gurdeep Singh Sappal, chief executive and editor-in-chief of RSTV said, the figure Rs1,700 crore spent by the channel is a 'figment of imagination'. "It is categorically stated that the total expenditure was only Rs146.7 crore for the said four years, 2010-2014, inclusive of salaries, rentals, capital cost and operational expenses," he said.
A report from Times of India, quoting the CAG report says, "Since it started operations, RSTV has had no revenue, and has carried out recruitments that do not adhere to laid down norms, the inspection report says. Among other things, RSTV also does not track its viewership."
"It (CAG) has also raised questions about the way RSTV has made senior-level appointments and fixed their salary structures, which are not in conformity with that of Rajya Sabha secretariat or government. The inspection report has also pointed that RSTV management has taken several ad hoc decisions," the news report says.
Sappal, also refuted the reported observations made by the CAG. He said, "...CAG has not published or tabled any report against RSTV. During the annual audit done by the Director General of Audit (Central Expenditure) or DGACE for Rajya Sabha Secretariat, including RSTV, some draft observations were made. These draft observations have been distorted, presented with factual inaccuracies and falsely portrayed."
"The channel also rejects the statmetn that total viewership o fits four web-links put together is less than a lakh. RSTV's main online presence is through its YouTube channel. As of today, it has a viewership of over 12 lakh per month and a cumilative viewership is nearly 1.40 crore," the CEO of RSTV said in the statement.
Lok Sabha TV (LSTV), a 24-hour TV channel broadcasting in Hindi and English, came into being in 2006 replacing the DD Lok Sabha channel. Earlier in 2004, with efforts of the Lok Sabha and Prasar Bharati, two dedicated satellite channels were set up to telecast live the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament.
Till the launnch of RSTV, Doordarshan Rajya Sabha used to air the proceedings of the Upper House.