COVID-19 fallout: Some FTA broadcasters pull out channels from DD Free Dish

According to sources, channels like 9X Jalwa and Showbox are among the few who have withdrawn from Prasar Bharati’s DTH Platform due to the I&B ministry not providing them a waiver on carriage fees

e4m by Sonam Saini
Updated: May 12, 2020 4:44 PM

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TV Free Dish

Some Free-To-Air broadcasters have pulled out their channels from Prasar Bharati’s DTH Platform DD Free Dish on account of the channels not receiving a waiver from the I&B ministry.
The Free To Air channels consortium had written to I&B Minister Prakash Javadekar, seeking a 100% waiver of carriage fees for the first quarter (April, May and June) and 50% for the second quarter (July, August and September), for channels who have secured MPEG-2 slots on Free Dish during the recently held 44th e-auction.

Sources close to the development have confirmed to exchange4media that 9X Media’s music channel 9XJalwa, IN10 Media’s Showbox and Filamchi are among the few channels which have been pulled out from the platform. The sources have also said that some other channels are likely to follow suit in the coming weeks.

“We had written to DD and the government to waive off the carriage fee but no such relief was provided. Hence, we decided to take the call and invest half of that money in the urban market, and monetise rather than going full-fledged in the rural market,” said one of the FTA broadcasters.

Last month, the FTA broadcasters together sought support from the government and wrote to the I&B Minister seeking a carriage fee waiver. The letter cited the COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacting the Indian economy and how advertisement bookings have nosedived by 80 per cent. This has hit commercial advertisements, which is the sole revenue stream for FTA channels and supports all its costs in terms of content, operations, carriage, marketing and transmission. The broadcasters had said that they were struggling to deal with the steep de-growth as the biggest impact of the crisis has been on advertising revenues that is likely to drop by 70-80%.

The letter to Javadekar read: “As early as end of March, we all in our individual capacities had reached out to DD Free Dish with a certain request of waving carriage fees for a quarter (April, May and June) owed by us to them in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. In response to which we were in receipt of a letter dated April 7, 2020 offering a deferred payment schedule in lieu of the waiver of 3 months’ outstanding payments sought for, and that too with a provision for furnishing a bank guarantee (valid upto 31.07.2020) of equivalent amount. Availing the said relief has been subjected to interest levy at 5.7% per annum and GST on the interest amount.”

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