Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has dropped five channels from its direct-to-home service DD Direct Plus for not paying the carriage fees. The channels that have been blacked out include Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, TV9, Akash Bangla and Star Utsav. The broadcasters were blacked out after they failed to pay the carriage fee despite being sent repeated notices and extensions.
Prasar Bharti had given a deadline of August 15, 2007 to these five channels to pay their carriage fees, and the deadline was extended several times upon the channels’ requests.
“They probably thought Prasar Bharati would not do anything. But we decided to act tough, and dropped them. After all, we have to meet our operational expenses also,” said a senior official from Prasar Bharati. According to the public broadcaster, sufficient time was given to those channels and as a policy decision, it was decided that DD Direct Plus would not carry any free-to-air channel.
According to the latest rules by Prasar Bharati, a domestic channel is required to pay Rs 25 lakh per annum as carriage fee, whereas the fee for foreign channels is Rs 50 lakh per annum. DD Direct Plus, which positions itself as offering free DTH service, does not charge any subscription fee from the viewer as a matter of policy of airing channels. Having blacked out these five channels, Prasar Bharati currently does not have any pay channel on board.