The Prasar Bharati Board has decided to give an 18-month extension to Kerry Packer and Vinay Maloo promoted HFCL-Nine Broadcasting for the prime time 7PM to 10PM slot in DD Metro with the same financial consideration as applicable currently. HFCL-Nine Broadcastings had earlier given a proposal to the Prasar Bharati Board for a long-term contract ranging between 5 to 10 years with a revenue-sharing clause.
HFCL-Nine Broadcasting currently pays Rs 121-crore for the three-hour of airtime on DD Metro. The annual contract for the two-time slots - 7PM to 9PM and 9PM – 10PM -- is scheduled to expire on September and October 2001.
Prasar Bharati officials alleged that the company had defaulted on four installments amounting to around Rs 24 crore and had threatened to walk out of the existing contractual obligation if not offered a long-term deal. HFCL-Nine Broadcasting maintained that as per the existing contractual obligation, it would take the company at least three years to break-even from the three-hour slot.
The company claims that as a result of its efforts Television Viewer Rating for the Metro channel, which is available both on terrestrial and satellite mode, have gone up three-fold in the last eight months while revenue from the slot have gone up five-fold.
With HFCL-Nine Broadcasting having raised serious doubts over viability of the venture in the short-run, it remains to be seen if these terms and conditions will be acceptable to the company. The Prasar Bharati has already debarred HFCL-Nine Broadcasting from bidding for the late night slot of 10 PM – 12.30 PM.