What has happened?
- Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha Television — the two TV channels that broadcast the proceedings of the upper and lower Houses of Parliament, respectively,
- Have been formally merged into a single entity called ‘Sansad Television’ from Monday.
- According to an order dated 1 March 2021, issued by the new channel, the decision was jointly taken by Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
- A retired IAS officer of the 1986 batch, Ravi Capoor, has been appointed as Sansad TV Chief Executive Officer for one year.
- Capoor has earlier served in the ministries of commerce, textiles and petroleum.
- He will be responsible for working out the final details of the merger.
Role of RS & LS TV
- Lok Sabha Television was launched in 2006 by then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, while Rajya Sabha TV hit the airwaves in 2011.
- Apart from broadcasting the proceedings of both Houses of Parliament, the channels aired discussions and other programmes on a range of topics.
When the idea of merger started?
- The secretariats of the two Houses started deliberations on the merger in 2017.
- On 7 November 2019, a committee was constituted and tasked with chalking out the modalities of the merger, and preparing guidelines for pooling of resources and technology.
- The panel was headed by former Prasar Bharati Chairman A. Surya Prakash, and its members included additional secretary to the Rajya Sabha Secretariat A.A. Rao, Ganpati Bhatt of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, RSTV financial adviser Shikha Darbari, Manoj Kumar Pandey, and Dr Aashish Joshi, former LSTV CEO.
- The committee held several sessions with parliamentarians across parties.
Why the decision of merger?
- The panel said in its report, submitted last year, that there should be just one integrated channel for Parliament.
- “There was a lot of duplicacy of efforts and resources between the channels and this was leading to an additional financial
- The merger came through because of that,” the official said.
- “For instance, the office space hired by RSTV at Talkatora Stadium had Rs 30 crore as rent, which was later reduced to around Rs 16 crore, but that was also too high,” the official added.
- The new Sansad TV, the official said, will function from the same space as LSTV at Delhi’s Mahadev Road.
- The Lok Sabha TV also has a studio in the Parliament library building and a feed centre on the first floor of Parliament building.
- These existing infrastructures would be enough, officials believe, to run Sansad TV.
- Panel chair Surya Prakash described the merger as a welcome step that will provide a more integrated approach to the parliamentary content that is broadcast.
- “It will reduce additional burden on finances by pooling in the resources of both the channels and synergising the broadcast of parliamentary proceedings,
- Through an integrated channel that will not compete with any private channel and will have a different mandate,” he said.
So, only 1 channel now?
- The merger panel had said in its report that there should be two separate channels under Sansad TV — Sansad 1 and Sansad 2.
- This is aimed at serving two purposes — to ensure parliamentary proceedings of both Houses can be telecast simultaneously, and In times when Parliament is not in session, to cater to English and Hindi audiences.
- The report said Sansad 1 was mooted as the channel for Lok Sabha proceedings and Sansad 2 for Rajya Sabha
- The Sansad TV umbrella… will be headed by a single person.
- Apart from airing the parliamentary proceedings of the two Houses, Sansad TV will air multiple daily and weekly programmes on news and current affairs,
- On the themes of democracy, and awareness of the Constitution, among others.
What about employees?
- There are nearly 250 personnel working with the Rajya Sabha TV and around 100 with Lok Sabha TV. Sources said, that as part of cost cutting, there was a possibility of termination of the contract of a few employees.
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