The 35th e-auction of DD Free Dish, the central government’s Free-To-Air Direct to Home (DTH) platform, is slated to take place later this week on May 25. The auction provides television broadcasters with the opportunity of grabbing vacant non-news and current affairs DTH slots on DD Free Dish at a reserve price of Rs 8 crore. However, leading private DTH operators, Dish TV and Tata Sky, are least perturbed by the expansion of DD Free Dish.
Speaking to exchange4media, Dish TV’s Jawahar Goel described DD Free Dish as a “stepping stone” for pay TV market. Instead of recognizing the government’s DTH platform as a competitor, the veteran business executive found it to be complimentary. “Those who want to watch free TV, they are on DD Free Dish while others who can pay opt for private DTH players,” said Goel, Chairman & Managing Director, Dish TV.
On the other hand, Tata Sky, a close competitor of Dish TV, was reluctant to comment on the relevance of DD Free Dish. Harit Nagpal told exchange4media that it wasn’t appropriate to compare DD Free Dish with private operators. He reasoned that the former is “free” and the purpose of its existence is “very different” as compared to them.
“They are running a free food service. We are a restaurant,” said Nagpal, Managing Director & CEO, Tata Sky, as he invoked the analogy of a langar (food served to all visitors in a Gurdwara for free) viz-a-viz DD Free Dish. Powered by satellites, DTH platforms eliminate the role of middlemen or local cable operators through the use of dish antennas installed in homes. The process is further aided by set-top-boxes. Established during the fag end of 2004, DD Free Dish has grown from a small cluster of 33 channels to a large family of 80 television and 32 radio channels. The government’s plan is to eventually increase the DTH platform’s capacity to over 250 channels over the next two years.
The previous auction of slots on DD Free Dish held on May 9 saw successful bidding from 9X Jalwa, Sony Wah and Zee Anmol Cinema. Along with a participation amount of Rs 2.80 crore, broadcasters have to submit a non-refundable processing fee of Rs 25,000 before 12 noon on May 25 to be a part of the 35th e-auction. C1 India Private Limited will be conducting the auction on behalf of Prasar Bharati.