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HomeArticlesBroadcast TechnologyDD Free Dish e-auction PrasarBharati ensures fair genre-wise distribution
Monday, 08 April 2019 12:22

DD Free Dish e-auction PrasarBharati ensures fair genre-wise distribution

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In January 2019, national pubcaster Prasar Bharati had invited applications from private broadcasters for participating in its 38th online e-auction for filling up of 54 vacant of MPEG-2 slots on its DD Free Dish DTH service. 

As per latest details, channel placements will take place on 1 March. Bidders could apply before 6 February 2019. Scrutiny of the application was done from 6-8 February. 

The e-auction will be held from 11 February 2019 onwards followed by the issuing of allotment letters by 20 February. Post this, payments would have to be made by 28 February. 

MIB’s change of guard helped resumption of e-auction: 

 The last e-auction had taken place on August 22, 2017. The resumption was mainly because of the change of the guards at Information and Broadcasting Ministry (MIB). The issues between MIB and PrasarBharati were resolved.

N K Sinha, former I&B Ministry secretary, had kept in abeyance the e-auctioning. The move, which became a bone of contention with the then Smriti Irani-led ministry, had cost the cash-strapped public broadcaster around ` 300 crore.

Then with the change of guard, the ministry under Rajyavardhan Rathore now has ordered that the process resume again by “following transparent procedures”.

Prasar Bharati Finance Secretary Rajiv Singh said: “The e-auctioning had been stalled, but now it will resume with revised  categories. The new policy is a dynamic model that takes care of a different eventuality.”

Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati: “However, with the new revised policy, diversity of the platform is ensured. While for the top end, Hindi general entertainment channels, the reserve price is ` 15 crore annually, the bottom entry point for under-represented channels is ` 6 crore. This will ensure many channels, especially in the south, get slots, making the DD Free Dish platform more competent, attractive and diverse.”


New Policy:

PrasarBharati notified new guidelines for the allocation of slots on free direct to home (DTH) platform DD Free Dish in mid-January 2019. At present, DD Free Dish has an estimated 30 million customers.

The policy says that PrasarBharati will follow the e-auction mode of allocating slots to private satellite TV channels. As many as 56 slots will be up for grabs after discounting the 24 slots reserved for DD/Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha channels. The DTH platform has 80 slots on its platform.

This time, MPEG2 and MPEG4 slots would be up for grabs separately. Also, guidelines will have differential pricing for different genres. TV channels will be allowed to bid only in e-auctions specific to the genre/language they belong to.


GEC slot price:

As per policy, 5 buckets have been made of MPEG2 slots. With a reserve price of ` 15 crore, Bucket A+ has been kept for Hindi GECs and Teleshopping channels while Bucket A has been dedicated for Hindi movie channels with a reserve price of ` 12 crore. The Hindi music and sports channels along with Bhojpuri GEC and movie channels will form part of Bucket B which has a reserve price of ` 10 crore.

As per pubcaster, the reserve price has been determined on the basis of the commercial potential of the genre.


News genre: 

The policy says that all News & Current Affairs (Hindi), All News& Current Affairs (English) Channels and News& Current Affairs (Punjabi) Channels are under the Bucket C which has a reserve price of ` 7 crore. The Bucket D with a reserve price of ` 6 crore will comprise of all other remaining genres/language channels.

This is in sharp contrast to earlier version of pricings where there were only two categories – news and non-news – while auctioning slots. The reserve price for news channels was ` 6.5 crore while the same for non-news channels was ` 8 crore.



Initially, in the first five rounds, e-auctions will be held for five slots or the number of applications received for each bucket. After the above, the remaining slots will be auctioned bucket wise starting again from bucket A+ and will progressively go from bucket A+ to bucket D till such time there are no more bidders in a given bucket or there are no more vacant slots left.

The e-auctions will be held on an annual basis for all vacant slots for a period of one year. The e-auction will be held at least one month in advance of the expiry of the Annual Agreement of TV channels placed on DD Free Dish. Bidding in the e-auction will be conducted in multiple rounds starting with genres with highest Reserve Price and progressing in descending order of reserve price by genre (language) till all vacant unreserved MPEG2 slots are filled up.

The payment terms for successful bidders upon award of a slot will be revised to ensure a sustainable cash flow while lowering entry barrier across genres to encourage maximum participation of bidders in e-Auctions. Placement of regional channels of Doordarshan that are currently not available on DTH/Cable may be considered for placement on vacant MPEG4 slots reserved for the same.

Bidding in e-auction of vacant unreserved MPEG-4 slots will be open to all genre (language) at the same invitational Reserve Price of ` 5 lakh that is irrespective of the genre (language). This will help promote the DD Free Dish authorised set top boxes (STBs), The e-auctions for MPEG4 slots has been scheduled for 27 March. 

International public broadcasters licensed /registered by the Ministry of I&B can also participate in e-auction.


Court Case: 

Broadcasters 9X Media, B4U Broadband and TV Vision had challenged the PrasarBharati’s new policy guidelines in the Delhi High Court and while hearing the case the high court on 4 Feb reserved its judgement. 

The three channels, in their petition, had contended that the reserve price set by the public broadcaster in the new policy guideline is too high and prohibitive for small and niche broadcasters. They have also contended that by classifying channels of different genres into a single bucket the pubcaster has treated un-equals as equals. The Hindi music channels have been clubbed together with sports channels besides Bhojpuri GEC and movie channels with a reserve price of ` 10 crore.

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