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Prasar Bharati to have a new financial structure

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Mr K.S. Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati
Mr K.S. Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati

Our Bureau

Hyderabad, Dec. 25

PRASAR Bharati will soon have a "viable financial structure" to forge alliances and borrow from a variety of sources.

A committee headed by the Secretary (Information and Broadcasting) will submit its report in a week, suggesting ways to put in place such a structure.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Mr K. S. Sarma, Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati, said the structure would be finalised in three months. "We will have it hopefully next fiscal," he said.

Prasar Bharati is estimated to have assets worth Rs 4,258 crore. The corporation, which recorded revenues of Rs 825 crore last year, is confident of reaching the Rs 1,000-crore mark this fiscal.

"We will have a profit and loss account. We can find ways to have a continuous flow of funds. We will have the freedom to borrow at lower interest rates. (The corporation now gets financial support from the Government at a very high interest rate)," he said.

The proposed model would also allow Prasar Bharati to forge alliances with private operators and pick equity.

Keeping in mind the growing popularity of FM channels, the corporation had decided to set up 100 more FM stations by establishing a similar number of transmitters in the next two years. The target is to extend the FM coverage to 50 per cent of the population from the present 30 per cent. It currently has 150 FM transmitters and around 20 stations.

Mr Sarma was here in connection with the launch the 13th edition of `Rainbow', an FM channel for young listeners in Hyderabad.

"If the story of airlines is any indication, there are huge opportunities in the radio segment," he said. There are expressions of interest for nearly 300 private stations. "The auction process will begin in January," he said.

On the DTH (Direct-To-Home) expansion, he said that the number of installations would cross the 50-lakh mark this year. "By May 1, the number of television channels on offer would go up to 50 from 33 and radio stations to 22 from 12," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 26, 2005)
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