NEW DELHI: Doordarshan’s FreeDish is all set for its 36th e-auction on 4 July 2017, after an auction on 25 May turned out to be a damp squib though two TV channels came on a pro rata basis.
In a major change of policy, the reserve price for general entertainment channels will be Rs 80 million but the reserve price for news and current affairs channels will be Rs 65 million.
With the completion of MPEG4 trials, the total strength of the platform will go up to 104 by the end of July as expected. Earlier this year, the Parliament was informed that FreeDish had got approval to increase this capacity to 250 channels and DD sources had told Indiantelevision.com that it will happen in the third quarter of 2018.
The e-Auction will be conducted by M/s. C1 India Pvt. Ltd., Noida which also conducted the FM Radio Phase III auctions on behalf of Prasar Bharati.
Meanwhile, changes have also been made in the modes of payment with regard to GEC and news channels. The participation amount (EMD) in the e-Auction for GEC channels is Rs.28 million while it is Rs 22.8 million for news channels. This has to be deposited in advance before or by 12 noon on the date of auction along with processing fee of Rs.25,000 (non-refundable).
Incremental amount for the auction will be Rs one million and the time for every slot e-auction will be of fifteen minutes duration. This may be extended by five minutes if a bid is received before the closing time.
Unsuccessful bidders will get back the participation amount within three weeks of the results while that of successful bidders will be adjusted against the third and final instalment of the carriage fee. If the successful bidder fails to put his channel on the allotted slot within a month, the allotment will be cancelled and the participation fee forfeited. Successful bidders have to sign and return an agreement within fifteen days of allotment.
However, Doordarshan has changed its payment regimen and made it stricter.
The first installment of 25 per cent of the bid price with the applicable service tax will have to be paid within one month from date of placement of channel. The second installment of 25 per cent of the total bid price along with the applicable service tax will have to be paid within four months of placement of channel. The third installment of remaining amount after adjusting the participation fee and previous installments but adding the applicable service tax will be deposited within seven months of placement of channel.
If any of the installments is not paid in time, a penal interest of 14.5 per cent per annum will be levied.
If there is failure in depositing an installment for two months, the deposited participation amount along with any installment paid will be forfeited and the channel discontinued after a 21-day discontinuation notice.
The two channels that were brought on board on pro rata basis are RT Movies and NewsX – which is FreeDish’s first English news channel – have been taken on a special pro rata basis till the next auction. Explaining the concept of pro rata, he said these channels are paying at a daily rate basis calculated against the reserve price of Rs 80 million for the period when they came on air till the next auction. This works out to Rs 2,19,178 per day.
In line with the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, DD has implemented Indian CAS (iCAS) on DD FreeDish Platform. iCAS (which is an initiative of the central government) was introduced in the auction held last month. The introduction of iCAS will provide enhanced viewing experience.
DD officials said the existing viewers will continue to get 80 SDTV channels and 32 radio channels, but will have to obtain iCAS-enabled authorized set-top boxes for accessing all new channels.
Although FreeDish will remain free-to-air with no monthly or periodic fee, the viewers will be required to register with DD FreeDish on getting the new STB from Doordarshan authorized STB dealers.
DD officials said implementation of iCAS and authorisation of STB original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by Doordarshan will give a major thrust to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’. At present, a majority of STBs are imported. However, the introduction of iCAS will help in standardization of STBs and encourage quality STB manufacturing in India.
With analogue having been switched off, the Parliament had been told that many stakeholders feel that FreeDish is the best option in Phase IV which covers rural India.
FreeDish was launched with a modest bouquet of 33 channels in December 2004, and now carries eighty TV channels and 32 radio channels. This includes 22 Doordarshan channels and 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. The All-India Radio stations also piggy-back on the platform.