Why are Prasar Bharati & TRAI going to MIB against some private TV channels?

Prasar Bharati has suggested that allotment of transporter on GSAT15 satellites should be restricted to only government users and the public broadcaster to avoid malpractices

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Feb 25, 2020 9:01 AM

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While the auctioning for DD Free Dish MPEG-2 slots is underway, there is a strong undercurrent in the broadcasting fraternity. The guild has expressed worries about certain malpractices in the industry. Issues concerning some private channels misusing DD Free Dish without bearing the cost have now been taken up by the public broadcaster and TRAI. Both offices have now written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting demanding correction of the situation.

It is a known fact that DD Free Dish platform operates in the Ku band on GSAT 15 satellite providing services to the viewers on free-to-air basis. However, according to documents accessed by exchange4media, a letter by Prasar Bharati CEO to I&B secretary Ravi Mittal on February 6, 2020, says, “Some private channels which are not on ‘DD Free Dish’ are available in unencrypted form to viewers illegally through the set top box meant for free to air viewing of channels through DD Free Dish platform.”

The letter mentions a provider who is allegedly uplinking TV channels in Ku Band in GSAT 15 in unencrypted mode to have competitive advantage by leveraging the large subscriber base of DD Free Dish which also causes the public broadcaster loss in revenue.

In an appeal to the ministry, the letter by Prasar Bharati says, “It is suggested that allotment of transporter on GSAT15 satellites may be restricted to only government users and Prasar Bharati to avoid such situations.”

On February 14, 2020, a letter from the telecom regulatory body advisor was also sent to the additional secretary at I&B, calling out names of the channels that are illegally available to viewers on DD Free Dish.

TRAI has pointed out ‘proximity of satellites’ as one of the reasons for the discrepancy.

An excerpt from the letter says: “It may be noted that the satellite TV channels permitted by the MIB participate through online e-auction process as per policy guidelines for allotment of slots of DD Free Dish direct to home platform. The slots are allotted only to the successful bidders after completion of e-auction process.”

It further says, “In contrary of the above the said channels are being received by the subscribers of DD Free Dish without being listed amidst successful bidders in the e-auction. As a result this may be causing revenue loss to the public exchequer and also affecting other competing television channels.”

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