News channels win maximum slots in MPEG-4 auctions

The hiked prices were hardly a deterrent for news channels that wanted to get on to the DD Free Dish platform

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Mar 17, 2021 9:43 AM
DD Free Dish

Eleven winners of vacant unreserved MPEG-4 slots have been announced and ten out of the lot turns out to be news channels. The said 53rd e-auction of MPEG-4 slots of DD Free Dish that was concluded on March 16, earned Prasar Bharati close to Rs 10 crore.  

News channels to come on board included News 24 that couldn't get a slot at the recently concluded 52nd e-auction of MPEG-2 slots followed by others like Sudarshan TV, Sahara Samay, India News, News State UP/UK, News India 24X7, News 18 UP/UK, India News UP/UK, Chardikla Time TV, and Jantantra News. The bid values of these channels ranged between Rs 76 lakhs and Rs 1.12 crore.

As per the recently amended policy guidelines issued at the end of the last month, bidding in the e-auction of vacant unreserved MPEG-4 slots was open to all genre (language) channels at a reserve price of Rs 50 lakh/annum as against the initial reserve price of only Rs 5 lakh/annum. Under the amended guidelines the incremental amount in the auction bids of MPEG-4 slots was also revised at a minimum of Rs 2 lakh and multiples against the initial Rs 10,000. The participation fee too was increased from Rs 1.25 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. However as it turns out, the hiked prices were hardly a deterrent for news channels that wanted to get on to the DD Free Dish platform.

Even at the 52nd e-auction of MPEG2, news channels went all out to get themselves an FTA tag. While most broadcasters paid a huge premium over what they paid last year for a slot on the platform, the highest bid at the MPEG-2 auction concluded earlier this month saw a growth of 80% against last year. At the 44th e-auction of MPEG-2 last year, Category C, which belongs to Hindi and Punjabi News and Current Affairs, clocked the highest bid of Rs 12.25 crore. But this year, the number touched Rs 22.05 crore.

Generally, 16 slots are auctioned for MPEG-4 but this time was an exception as 4 DD channels that were taken off the list to accommodate more news channels at the MPEG-2 auctions would be given MPEG-4 slots.

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