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DD Direct Plus plans to add movie and game show channels; mulls dropping carriage fee

28-February-2007
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DD Direct Plus plans to add movie and game show channels; mulls dropping carriage fee

DD Direct Plus, the direct-to-home service of Prasar Bharati, is planning to launch value-added services like movie and game show channels to make the service available to 4 million subscribers by May this year. It is all set to drop the carriage fee of Rs 1 crore per broadcaster for hosting their channels.

“The response to the carriage fee has not been good, so we will review it. We will also look at possible additions of value-added services on DD Direct Plus,” said Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli.

The movie and game show channels will open new revenue streams for Prasar Bharati. But unlike TataSky or Dish TV, the two private DTH players who charge Rs 35-70 per movie from their subscribers, subscribers of DD Direct Plus will get them for free. Advertising will generate revenue for these movie channels, sources at Doordarshan said.

“Right now, films generate Rs 90-100 crore through advertising for Doordarshan through its terrestrial network. Movies garner good viewership. The digital quality of DD Direct Plus will also get us decent advertising revenue, thereby opening up a new revenue stream,” a senior Doordarshan official said.

The carriage fee was introduced in 2005. Only four channels out of the 33 available on DD Direct Plus have paid the fee to Prasar Bharati. But even a waiver of carriage fee is unlikely to attract popular pay channels from bouquets like Zee and Star to join DD Direct Plus as the free-to-air nature of the service would clash with the revenue models of these pay channels.

Annually, Prasar Bharati incurs a cost of Rs 30 crore for hosting the 33 free-to-air channels and 12 radio channels without any revenue generation. Among them, 19 channels are of Doordarshan alone.

“A committee has been formed to recommend steps to overhaul DD Direct Plus. We will make DD Direct Plus very attractive for our subscribers,” Lalli said.

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