The Prasar Bharti board has rejected Nine Broadcasting’s plea for a five-year extension for its 7-9 pm prime time band on DD-Metro. Instead, Doordarshan has made a counter offer for an 18-month extension, which has not been accepted so far by the Kerry Packer-HFCL broadcasting company.
Meanwhile, Nine Broadcasting has decided that its existing one-year contract for the three hour prime time band would only begin from the date DD installed the agreed number of transmitters to achieve the optimum reach for the channel.Highly placed Doordarshan sources said Nine Broadcasting had raised a dispute that DD had not honoured a contractual agreement to increase the number of transmitters for the DD-Metro channel. There has been a one-month default in payment by Nine Broadcasting to DD amounting to around Rs 10 crore.
Nine Broadcasting’s CEO Ms Ravina Raj Kohli blamed DD for not meeting its commitment to increase the number of transmitters from 65 to 125 as well as ensure 100 per cent cable connectivity for the channel. The company has run up 25 to 30 per cent higher-than-estimated losses because of lack of commitment by DD to improve DD-Metro.
On DD’s counter offer for an 18-month extension (which Nine says is verbal and not formal), Nine Broadcasting says it is not interested in a short-term deal and is insisting on a three to five year extension at the very least. It has also proposed a fixed fee-cum-revenue sharing deal as a carrot.
Nine Broadcasting currently has three hours of airtime on DD Metro from 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm. Its annual contract for the two time slots is scheduled to expire on September 21 and October 16, respectively.
Nine Broadcasting is paying a hefty Rs 121 crore for three hours of air time on DD Metro in what industry circles consider a heavily overpriced deal.
Nine’s bid for the late night 10 pm to 00.30 am slot was earlier turned down in December-end by Prasar Bharti on the plea that no single private programmer should develop a monopoly over a Doordarshan channel.
Other broadcasting companies like STAR and Sony Entertainment Television have evinced keen interest in bidding for DD Metro’s prime time slot.
Meanwhile, Nine Broadcasting claims its better programming quality has resulted in the ``return of major brands like Colgate, Dabur, Tamarind (which is shown only on Star, other than DD), Titan and Home Trade to DD Metro.
The television viewer rating too has increased as seen from the rise from 15.4 per cent (All TV homes) when Nine took over DD-Metro’s prime time band to 24.1 in week 30, according to TAM Media Research. The viewership in cable and satellite homes has also seen a slight increase from 1.4 in week one to 3.1 in week 30.