There’s a new TV channel on India’s airwaves: Sansad TV. Formed by merging Rajya Sabha TV and Lok Sabha TV, it was launched by prime minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. M Venkaiah Naidu, India’s vice president and chairperson of the Rajya Sabha, and Om Birla, the Lok Sabha speaker, too were in attendance at the launch function at Parliament House Annexe.
“India is the mother of democracy and the launch of Sansad TV on the International Democracy Day makes it more relevant,” Modi said at the launch. “In these fast-changing times, the role of the media and TV channels is changing swiftly. The 21st century is especially bringing a revolution in communication and dialogue. It is natural that parliamentary channels also transform themselves according to modern systems.”
The decision to merge the Rajya Sabha TV and Lok Sabha TV, both of which primarily telecast parliamentary proceedings, was deliberated upon for two years. In November 2019, a committee led by former Prasar Bharati chairman A Surya Prakash was tasked with making a blueprint for the merged platform. And in March 2021, retired civil servant Ravi Capoor was made the CEO of the channel for one year.
Sansad TV will likely comprise a pair of operational platforms which will telecast Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha proceedings. The rest of the programming will focus on the functioning of the parliament and the country’s democratic institutions, governance, history and culture of India and contemporary issues.
The Tribune that Congress leader Karan Singh is set to host a show on religion and interfaith issues, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor will conduct interviews with eminent personalities, economist Bibek Debroy will likely curate a show on Hinduism. Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi will interview women MPs on a show called Meri Kahaani.
Sansad TV has also reportedly tied up with Ambrish Mithal, head of endocrinology and diabetes at Medanta, for a show on health. NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and advocate Hemant Batra will also have shows on the channel.
The budget of Sansad TV will be shared by the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The Times of India that the merger of assets and manpower of the precursor channels may lead to downsizing. The committee that designed the framework for the new channel had recommended that Sansad TV be run with a staff of 225-250, even though Rajya Sabha TV alone employs 250 people and Lok Sabha TV about 110.