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Prasar Bharati questioned over cricket broadcasts

India’s Public Accounts Committee has raised concerns over the culpability of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, after almost INR 34 million was lost to the government in relation to broadcast rights for cricket matches dating back to 2005.

The committee deemed the contract between Prasar Bharati and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for the rights to air one day international matches was a “mindless cut and paste reproduction of an earlier agreement signed in 2004 for a five-day match series and caused pecuniary loss of Rs 3.39 crore to the government,” according to a report in the Times of India.

Headed by BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, the committee also said the loss could not be attributed to poor drafting alone.

It was seriously concerned to find that although Prasar Bharati had made a net gain of INR 26 crore for 11 matches, the Ministry for Information and Broadcasting (I&B) was unable to explain why a rate of INR7.5 crore to the BCCI per ODI was agreed upon. Related files were untraceable, the committee was told.

“The issue of untraceable records or of missing files is a matter of far graver concern and evidently there is something rotten in the Ministry of I&B,” the report states.

The committee’s report, presented to India’s lower house of parliament Lok Sabha on 11 December, recommends that Prasar Bharati must act more efficiently and have greater accountability, while retaining its autonomy.

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