DD Direct, Prasar Bharati’s DTH service, has threatened to take five channels – Headlines Today, TV9, Akash Bangla, Aaj Tak and STAR Utsav – off air if they do not pay there dues. DD Direct has set a deadline of August 15 for these five channels to pay up after which these channels would be blacked out.
As per the rules, a domestic channel has to pay Rs 25 lakh a year as carriage fee while foreign channels have to pay Rs 50 lakh. Earlier, the carriage fee was Rs 1 crore a year, but when most private channels expressed their inability to pay the amount and some even said they would have to quit Doordarshan’s platform, the amount was eventually lowered to Rs 25 lakh.
B S Lalli, CEO, Prasar Bharati, said, “We had given them sufficient time. We have to meet our operational expenses and earn too. At the same time we will not charge any subscription fee from the viewer. For them it will remain totally free.”
When asked if these five channels wanted to continue on Doordarshan’s service, Lalli said, “They better think before they discontinue because we are the largest network in India.”
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Prasar Bharati is also trying to enter into a revenue-sharing formula with Malayala Manorama. “A proposal has come from Malayala Manorama regarding sharing of revenue generated by ads. If it works, we will extend the model to other channels as well,” Lalli said.
A TAM survey has put Doordarshan’s DTH platform’s spread to over 3.5 million homes in India, however, Prasar Bharati insists that this figure is higher than five million as TAM does not have adequate surveillance infrastructure to survey interior areas.