Saturday, October 23, 2010

DD, SIS Live dismiss bungling charges

NEW DELHI: 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, on Saturday refuted allegations of impropriety saying the deal was transparent.

SIS Live said in reply 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 5, 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% 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 up to 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 category.
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