Free Dish e-auction: Prasar Bharati hopes to draw diverse channels with 1-yr term

Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempatti says the focus is to bring in more diversity among participating channels while sustaining the current revenue

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Feb 11, 2020 1:18 PM

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DD Free Dish

With just about a week left for submitting bids for the 44th e-auction allotment of MPEG-2 slots of DD Free Dish, Prasar Bharati is looking at getting more diversity in terms of channels on board.

Interestingly, in the 42nd e-auction for allotment of 08 MPEG-2 slots the channels that came on board were mostly new. The list included ABZY COOL Movies in the category of Hindi GEC channels, SHOWBOX Music in All Music (Hindi) Channels category, Ganga Biskope and Zee Punjabi in Movies (Bhojpuri) and Others (Punjabi) categories and Wow, TV9 Bharatvarsh, ABP GANGA and MR TV in other categories.

“In the 42nd e-auction we saw that a lot of new channels participated and won too. We are hoping that more such channels will come and bring diversity,” said Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempatti.

Unlike the 42nd e-auction process where applications for bids was accepted for MPEG-2 slots of DD Free Dish DTH Platform on a pro-rata basis for the period 01.12.2019 to 29.02.2020, the 44th e-auction is for an annual term for the period - 01.04.2020 to 31.03.2021. The e-auction is to be tentatively held from 24.02.2020.

According to the mandate, only satellite channels licensed by the I&B Ministry will be allowed to participate in the allocation or the 44th e-auction process. Also, only companies holding valid permission from the ministry or their authorised distributor partners can apply for the allocation of DD Free Dish slots.

International Public Broadcasters licensed/ registered/permitted by the ministry can also participate in the e-auction.

The prices for the annual allotment of slots have also been set accordingly for the Channel Buckets with the Reserve Price going up to Rs 15 crore.
Also, a new bucket has been added to the initial list of five buckets. The new bucket - R1 - includes spiritual channels including channels promoting Yoga, Ayurveda, Health and Wellness (Ayush).

Is the broadcaster also looking at higher bids this time around?

According to Vempatti, “Free dish, as a platform, has a commercial as well as a public purpose. However, right now, the public purpose is more important because we would want to see more diversity and we will be satisfied if we sustain the current revenues.”

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