The Print, August 31, 2021
Economist and author Bibek Debroy, former Rajya Sabha MP Karan Singh, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, economist Sanjeev Sanyal and noted endocrinologist Dr Ambrish Mithal are some of the eminent public figures set to grace television screens as the new Sansad TV gears up for a soft-launch shortly, ThePrint has learnt.
Debroy will host a special programme on Hinduism while Singh will front a show on different religions that will include Buddhism, Islam and Jainism among others. Kant, Sanyal and Mithal will host programmes on infrastructure, economy and health, respectively.
Sansad TV, which will merge the existing channels Lok Sabha (LSTV) and Rajya Sabha Television (RSTV), will air proceedings from the two houses when the Parliament is in session.
At other times, it will telecast a bouquet of shows in Hindi and English on news and current affairs including 15 flagship programmes on different themes such as health, economy, gender, religion, democracy and others hosted by high-profile public figures.
Parliament sources privy to the developments told ThePrint that Sansad TV will comprise two channels — one will air the whole year and broadcast news, current affairs, panel discussions and news features while the other will be active only when the House is in session.
“When the house is in session, one channel will broadcast Lok Sabha proceedings and the other will air Rajya Sabha proceedings. When the House is not in session, programmes will be aired in just one of the channels with common viewership,” said a senior official of the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, who did not want to be named.
“Fifty new programmes have been conceived in-house and are currently being recorded. While 15 of these will be flagship programs hosted by high profile public figures, the other programmes will cover different aspects of Parliament functioning, state assemblies, current issues, etc. There will be one half-an-hour daily news bulletin,” the official added, further noting that the channel was ready to be launched.
An official order, issued by Lok Sabha Secretariat on 1 March, noted that the decision to merge LSTV and RSTV was taken jointly by Rajya Sabha chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
However, discussions on the merger had first started around 2017 as it was felt that the two channels were duplicating efforts and resources, which were creating additional financial burden.
In November 2019, a committee headed by former Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash was constituted to ready the blueprint of the merger. The committee in its report had recommended one integrated channel for Parliament.
Lok Sabha Television was launched in 2006 by then Speaker Somnath Chatterjee while Rajya Sabha TV hit the screens in 2011.
Who will control Sansad TV
Sansad TV is headed by retired IAS officer Ravi Capoor, who was appointed CEO for a year in March while Manoj K. Arora, an IRS officer, has been appointed as the interim editor-in-chief.
There will be a governing body and an apex committee, which will have the secretary generals of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as members, for the channel. The apex committee will operation of Sansad TV including deciding on content and programmes.
The budget of Sansad TV, however, will be shared jointly by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.
“While Lok Sabha will bear two-third of the overall cost, Rajya Sabha will share one-third,” an official of Lok Sabha Secretariat told ThePrint.
As of now, Sansad TV has a staff strength of around 250, comprising the staff of both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha TV, and these include around 17-18 anchors. No fresh hiring has been undertaken, at present.
“These are contractual staff. Nobody has been retrenched. Rationalisation will happen over a couple of months,” said the senior RS Secretariat official quoted earlier.
Sansad TV will operate out of the same Mahadev Road office in Delhi, which was used by the Lok Sabha TV earlier.
“The office has been remodelled with all infrastructure in place. Sansad TV is ready for launch. We are waiting for the inauguration date to be fixed,” a Lok Sabha Secretariat official said.
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