The Lok Sabha TV and the Rajya Sabha TV channels have been officially merged into one single entity called Sansad TV, PTI reported on Tuesday. Retired Indian Administrative Service officer Ravi Capoor was appointed the chief executive officer of the channel for one year on March 1.

The decision is in line with the proposals of a panel headed by former Prasar Bharati chairperson A Surya Prakash. The panel was set up by Rajya Sabha chairman M Venkaiah Naidu after consulting with Speaker Om Birla in November 2019. The committee had also held a meeting with the MPs of different political parties who recommended that the live telecast should continue. It submitted its report last year, but the contents of it are not yet public.

Though the channels have been integrated into a single entity, it will still have two platforms during the Parliament sessions – one to telecast the live proceedings of Lok Sabha and the other of Rajya Sabha. “During the inter-session period and beyond the working hours of Parliament, both the variants will telecast common content to a large extent,” an unidentified official told The Hindu. “LSTV platform would telecast programme in Hindi, while RSTV platform would do so in English. The two language variants it was felt enables better branding and increased viewership.”

Three sub-committees are currently scrutinising the report of the panel to finalise the integration of technical and manpower assets of both the channels, reported The Hindu. There are nearly 250 personnel working with the Rajya Sabha TV, and the Lok Sabha TV has about 100 staff. There is a possibility that the contract of a few employees may be terminated as part of cost-cutting measures.

Surya Prakash welcomed the government’s announcement. “My committee had recommended the merger for better synergy and integration of the two channels,” he told The Indian Express. “We were asked to examine if the integration was possible, and to look at the modalities.”

Opposition MPs, however, have expressed apprehensions about the merger. “Does it [the merger] help Parliament function as an “institution of accountability”, asked Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien, according to PTI. “Will it limit access to live telecasts? Will MPs have limited airtime to raise issues? Will they find new ways to get heard?”