At the 31st auction of its free-to-air direct-to-home platform FreeDish on 20 and 21 October, Doordarshan sold all 27 slots earning an amount of Rs 130.30 crore.
“There are no slots vacant at this point in time. The total amount raised was Rs 130.30 crore. The highest bid was above Rs 5 crore,” says Supriya Sahu, Director General, Doordarshan. The new channels which reported to bid for the slots are News State Uttarakhand/Uttar Pradesh, 9x Bajao TV, and a teleshop channel. “The average auction price and the overall competition were much better compared to previous auctions. We saw good competition from both GECs and news channel,” shares Sahu, who believes DD FreeDish is the choice for those opting for Pan India presence. According to sources, the channels were bidding for 22 million connections in rural areas.
Interestingly in the last auction on September 15, the highest bid was reported to be Rs 5.3 crore. Despite that, this auction had set the same reserve price at Rs 4.3 crore. The reserve price had been Rs 3.7 crore till last year but was reported to rise to its present level for the 25th e-auction in January.
Earlier on October 6, bidders experienced technical glitches during the bidding process due to which the e-auction had to be halted and postponed to October 21 and 22. ABP News, one of the bidders (who bought license), confirmed it. Avinash Pandey, Chief Operating Officer, ABP News, says “This happened in October 6 due to a technical glitch where many of the bidders could not log in. But DD held the revised auctions later on October 20 and 21.”
In the previous e-auction three channels, namely IBN7, WOW Cinema and Bhojpuri Cinema, have renewed their slots on Doordarshan’s free direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish. Then in the 29th e-auction in August, the DTH platform added two new channels Fight Sports and APN.
The e-auction was conducted by C1 India Pvt. Ltd., Noida which also conducted the first stage of the FM Radio Phase III auctions on behalf of Prasar Bharati, the public broadcaster. In May, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati had announced its plans to revamp DD National channel by the end of September, by auctioning its evening 7-11 pm prime time slots. This means Doordarshan will now outsource some general entertainment programmes to external production houses through an auction.
DD had earlier stated that it is now capable of carrying 104 television channels on its FTA FreeDish. It now carries 80 TV channels and 32 radio channels. That includes 22 Doordarshan channels, two Parliamentary channels, seven general entertainment channels, 18 movie channels, 13 news channels, seven music channels, three religious channels and eight channels of other genres. FreeDish was launched with a bouquet of 33 channels in December 2004.