NEW DELHI: The Prasar Bharati board had "in principle" approved a proposal for payment of Rs 2.92 crore by Doordarshan to a private firm for the live coverage of IFFI, 2017, government sources claimed today, amid reports that the public broadcaster has now declined to pay the money.
There were reports that Prasar Bharati had rejected a demand from the National Film Development Corporation that Doordarshan pay Rs 2.92 crore towards expenses for hiring a private firm for the coverage of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) despite approving it in principle at a meeting on October 25.
At the meeting, held a month ahead of the festival, senior officials of Prasar Bharti, which runs Doordarshan, discussed its coverage and noted that the event was aimed at high impact.
"At the end of the October 25 meeting, an in-principle approval was accorded by the board for the commissioning of the episodes and marketing the Film Festival property to garner high ratings and revenue," the sources claimed.
During the meeting, sources said, plans were firmed up to commission content specific to the festival to air on DD one week before and in the course of the event.
In addition to the content of 42 half-hour episodes, which would be commissioned and paid for by DD, the opening and closing ceremonies will also be provided to Doordarshan to air, the board had decided, sources said.
They said the festival committee, through the NFDC, also decided to engage an event management company to produce the entire event including the content.
Official records show that NFDC kept asking Doordarshan for the money beginning a week before the festival opened on November 20, but it was declined.
The board turned down the demand from the NFDC, a PSU under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, at its meeting on February 15 and asked why a private firm was engaged when Doordarshan was "fully qualified" for the task.
Prasar Bharati had earlier clarified that the board, in its October 25 meeting, discussed the issue of the festival coverage.
It was proposed that special content around IFFI be developed to attract high viewership and monetise the festival through better marketing for greater revenues.
"The board approved the proposal for DD to commission special content for IFFI through NFDC to be produced by an external agency through an open tender process," Prasar Bharti said in a statement on micro-blogging site Twitter.
The board was also informed that the opening and closing ceremonies would be provided to Doordarshan by NFDC to be telecast live, the statement said.
"Prasar Bharati, on January 19, 2018, confirmed the payment due from Doordarshan to NFDC towards IFFI," it said.
During its October 25 meeting, the Prasar Bharti board members also wanted to explore if the entire process can be developed as a long-term property which could be leveraged to attract higher viewership so that whatever money is invested should be recovered through advertisements, sources said.