Rs 246 crore CWG deal is transparent, says Doordarshan DG

Rs 246 crore CWG deal is transparent, says Doordarshan DG

Having faced brickbats from all quarters, public broadcaster Doordarshan and SIS Live, the UK-based company which had the sole broadcasting rights for CWG games with a Rs.246 crore contract, today refuted allegations of impropriety saying the deal was transparent.

SIS Live said in reply to a written questionnaire sent by PTI that it has paid all service taxes due in accordance with the regulations; the last payment being made in October and the next payment is due in January 2011.

"SIS Live has kept proper accounts and copies of bills. These are administered by our central service centre in the UK, and operated online from India. Since the I-T Department visit to our project office in Delhi on October five, we have provided all the documents requested – over 2,500 – within the agreed timescale," it added.

The company refuted that any of its offices were "raided" or any of its bank accounts "frozen". "Currently, much more than 20 per cent of the contract value is outstanding, as was expected at this stage under the contract terms," it said.

Dismissing as baseless allegations of corruption, Doordarshan Director General Aruna Sharma said that the whole contract was very transparent.

"There is nothing wrong in it. The deal has been done following all the process of government and General Finance Rules (GFR) and with proper approval by the competent authority, which is the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting".

She said, "the firm was selected after a thorough and unbiased procedure based on government rules."

Asked about the charge that SIS Live had floated an entity in India solely for the purpose of executing the contract, she said, "The company needs godowns and other infrastructure support to implement the work. We gave the contract to them and it is upto them how they complete the task. There was nothing wrong in it."

SIS Live said that in order to deliver the highest quality broadcast services required for the CWG, the company sub-contracted numerous organisations from around the world.
"This is entirely normal practise for a project of this magnitude and complexity and the use of subcontractors was expressly contemplated in the contract," it said.

Questions were raised over the deal after the Income Tax department had in its survey operations of SIS Live found alleged discrepancies in its financial documents.
Sources said, the company was allegedly trying to evade taxes to the tune of Rs 29 crore.

The IT department subsequently asked Prasar Bharti, which had made Doordarshan enter into a contract with the company for broadcast rights of the Games, to cut taxes from the company's receipts under the Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) category.

The DG said, "Income tax deduction is to be done by the Pay and Accounts department of Prasar Bharti. They had deducted the income tax as per the direction of the IT department. Any change in the same would be equally abided by the concerned section....

"The firm is still to be paid 40 per cent of money by us. In addition there is 10 per cent of bank guarantee also with the government. There is no question of bungling by Doordarshan. The deal is done in a proper way," she said.

Explaining the overall process of selection, Sharma said, "The Expression of Interest (EoI) was called by Doordarshan for the contract. About six entities had come forward for it. Out of which two (Nimbus and SIS Live) had participated in the technical and financial bids.

The reply by SIS Live was sent from the broadcasting company's office in Langley.
"We (the company) are very proud of the coverage which we have produced and have been delighted by the feedback received from broadcasters around the world.

"To now see these unqualified accusations in the Indian media is deeply upsetting, particularly for all the staff who worked so hard to cover the event. All are completely groundless and some, frankly, outrageous," it said.

"SIS Live was part of the team which worked tirelessly during the run up to the Games, under incredibly difficult conditions and circumstances, to ensure all the venues were broadcast-ready in time," David Meynell, SIS Live Managing Director said.

"Any suggestion that SIS Live has earned excessive profits and or paid any sub-contractors anything less than market rates is entirely erroneous.

"Indeed, the enormous challenges presented and overcome by SIS Live in delivering world class coverage of the XIX CWG in Delhi 2010 have contributed to ensuring that any profit made from this event is extremely modest," he said.

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