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Thoughts on the ITV Pirate Controversy
By Prananatha das
Although I have known Nrsimhananda Prabhu for many years and fully support and respect him in his activities, I found some of his comments needing a deeper look.
Nrsimhananda Prabhu writes, "Of course, Sravana didn't have to come up with the hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for the production and rights of all these publications. He is happy to let others bear those costs in the past, present, and future."
It was common practice for many years that ISKCON Temples paid an annual fee to ITV, presumably for the cost involved in buying equipment, establishing a facility, staffing etc. I don't know what this amounted to but I can estimate that it was not an inconsiderable sum. This laksmi was collected by devotees engaged in various preaching or paraphernalia activities and was paid to ITV in good faith and support of ITV's work. That being the case it would not seem unreasonable, now that ITV is firmly established, that these same temples and devotees be given some sort of a concession in purchasing ITV material.
For example, here in New Zealand I purchased a full set of Srila Prabhupada videos and Memories tapes from BLS. The cost for 40 or so tapes was $2,000 NZ. That is $50 NZ each. (By contrast, one can purchase high quality videos in the stores for half this price in NZ). And after paying this amount I have had no less than 6 or 7 tapes replaced due to poor quality recording. If I were to spend thousands of dollars for a set of Srila Prabhupada's books only to have 15% of them fall apart in less than 2 years, would that be a very good reflection on the BBT or the quality of their work?
These points need some consideration from ITV. Perhaps by distributing ITV material on VCDs or DVDs some of the quality issues could be addressed. VCDs especially are easy and inexpensive to produce, can be played on PCs, MACs as well as on DVD players, are quick and easy to produce and take up a lot less space. DVDs are probably too expensive but prices are coming down in that area so it is a viable future alternative. It also reflects the growing worldwide trend away from tapes.
Nrsimhananda also wrote, "Would Sravana suggest that anyone should be able to publish Srila Prabhupada's books? This is his logic. By his standards anyone can reproduce the books and pictures in Prabhupada¹s books without having to had borne the costs of editing, including collecting, preserving, creating appendixes, seps, etc."
Again, this should be viewed in the context of the support given to the BBT over the years by the worldwide devotees of ISKCON, the high quality of literature that the BBT produces, and the very reasonable prices one pays to acquire these books.
I do agree that Srila Prabhupada should be made available to as many people as possible around the globe and achieving this end should be the goal of all His sincere followers. ITV should take up the challenge and compete with the bootleggers head to head. Start selling VCDs at the same price as Brahmananda and Gargamuni. There are hundreds of thousands of Srila Prabhupadanugas who are thirsty to see Him, to hear Him and to read His divine message. And, if we think there is a shortage of customers, since Jan 2000 the world population has increased by more than 150,000,000. Three people take birth on this planet, EVERY SECOND! In the time it took you to read this article, another 200 people became potential customers of Prabhupada's mercy. What are we waiting for?
Your servant Prananatha das
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