M Venkaiah Naidu orders audit of Rajya Sabha TV expenditure

Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has ordered expenditure and professional audit of Rajya Sabha TV (RSTV) after discovering that huge costs — to the tune of Rs 60 crore annually — were incurred by the government-owned channel.

Naidu has red-flagged the expenditure incurred by the channel on renting office premises, hiring cabs and producing a feature film. Since the launch of the government-owned channel in August 2011, the channel has incurred an expenditure of Rs 375 crore — working to around Rs 62.5 crore annually.

The statistics provided to the Rajya Sabha Chairman reveal that RSTV pays Rs 25 crore as an annual rent to hire NDMC-owned premises in Talkatora Stadium. Naidu has directed RSTV to find out whether making a one-time investment and buying an office space would be more economical than spending Rs 25 crore annually.

“Shri Naidu said keeping in view the USP (the unique selling point) of the channel, efforts need to be made to expand Rajya Sabha TV’s reach with a clear plan of action,” the official said, adding that the channel has also been asked to explore a content-sharing arrangement with the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.

Prasar Bharati runs Doordarshan and All India Radio.

“Naidu has also raised queries regarding the original mandate of the channel, present content mix, reach of the channel, utilization of manpower and other resources, expenditure under various heads and the scope for rationalization,” the official added.