Buoyed by the record commercial revenue of Rs 1,200 crore generated by Doordarshan and All India Radio in the fiscal 2005-06, Prasar Bharati honchos have initiated a number of innovative plans for additional source of revenue for the public broadcaster.
On the television front, Prasar Bharati in its new scheme of things, is focusing on overseas distribution of Doordarshan channels to raise commercial revenue. DD India, which is already beaming into Canada, will be launched in the US in May, for which the distribution arrangement are already in place.
According to Prasar Bharati CEO, K S Sarma, Doordarshan had already been paid an earnest money of $400,000 and over the next five years the public broadcaster will get $3 million for beaming DD India to the US. Prasar Bharati has also entered into an arrangement with Vijay Amritraj’s company to carry DD India, DD News and DD Bharati globally on mobile phones. This arrangement, according to Sarma, had been worked out on a 50:50 revenue sharing basis.
Prasar Bharati has also entered into an arrangement with ACL Wireless Ltd to launch both SMS and IVR based service of DD News channel. As part of this service, viewers will be able to download text based news headlines, stock alerts and video clips of news headlines. While the stock alert service will be available from April 20, the other services will be available from next month. There are also plans to introduce live video streaming of select channels like DD News in a bid to find out newer ways of earning revenue.
Prasar Bharati has also prepared a blueprint to earn substantial revenue from its DTH service – DD Direct Plus – which currently carries 19 Doordarshan channels and 19 private TV channels on its free-to air platform.
Prasar Bharati, which spends on an average Rs 1 crore per year to host one channel on its DTH platform, is incurring losses as it is not charging any subscription from the viewers. But now the broadcaster has decided to charge carriage fee of Rs 1 crore per year from private TV channels. Sarma said that he had already written to 14 private channels on their DTH platform in this regard. He hopes to generate enough revenue as plans are afoot to raise the total number of channels from 33 to 52 in the current year.
“We should not be facing any problem in getting carriage fee, particularly as against the available space for 32 new TV channels, as many as 68 are in the queue to get on to our DTH platform. Moreover, a recent TAM report says that we have penetrated 10 million homes (that translates into 50 million viewers), which will further boost the prospects for our DTH service,” affirmed Sarma.
Besides this, Prasar Bharati is also planning to create a separate stream of revenue through ads on the DTH platform.
Yet another innovative revenue stream planned by Prasar Bharati is to take on local cable operators head-on as far as city specific ads are concerned. The plan is to air scroll ads on local transmitters. On an experimental basis, Prasar Bharati has earned Rs 50 lakh in a year from Salem, a small town in Tamil Nadu, itself. As per the plan, Prasar Bharati is to roll out this service over 200-300 transmitters this year and over 500 transmitters in the coming year. Ultimately, all the 1,400 odd transmitters are to be covered.
On the radio front, too, Prasar Bharati has chalked out expansion plans for its DTH platform by increasing the number of radio channels to 50 by the year end. It has successfully experimented with the satellite radio service of its TV channels on the DTH platform. With the help of a dish box and radio speakers minus TV set., one can get this service. Prasar Bharati is toying with the idea of commercially launching this service soon.