MUMBAI: Doordarshan’s free direct to home (DTH) platform Free Dish has seen a drop in its TV channel offering. The DTH platform is now offering 72 channels which is less than the 80 channels that it was offering at its peak.
These eight channels including Baba Ramdev’s Aastha channel are believed to have left the Free Dish platform due to a high reserve price.
Answering a question in the Lok Sabha, minister of state in the ministry of information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said that DTH platform is offering 72 channels and 39 radio channels.
“Prasar Bharati has informed that presently 72 free-to-air TV channels and 39 radio channels are available on DD Free Dish DTH Platform,” Rathore told the Lok Sabha.
He further stated that the government has approved the distribution of 66,000 DTH in tribal, remote & border areas.
He also said that the government sanctioned a scheme under 12th Plan for further expansion of Doordarshan’s DTH platform up to 250 TV channels which also adds to the prospects of revenue generation through advertisement and through additional channels.
DD has put auctions for Free Dish slots on slot following the ministry’s directive. The minister noted that private broadcasters are milking Free Dish by using its reach to earn hundreds of crores of ad revenue. Broadcasters have to Rs 6.5 crore and Rs 8 crore for news and non-news slots on Free Dish.
“The revenue model of DD Free Dish has limitations and the Ministry advised Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan) that the proposed e-auction be kept in abeyance. Doordarshan offers a channel for as low as Rs.6-8 crores whereas as per newspaper reports including in The Tribune dated 11/10/2017 with the title “DD to review auction of slots to Private Channels on free dish” a private channel earns between Rs.500-700 crores,” he stated.
He also said that the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) has asked the government to come out with a comprehensive policy for Free Dish. “In a related matter wherein private channels approached TDSAT, TDSAT’s Interim Order dated 27.10.2017 advised the Central Government to carry out a comprehensive review of the policy on DD Free Dish,” he added.
Prasar Bharati is likely to take a revenue hit in FY18 due to DD’s inability to monetise vacant slots on Free Dish. In the absence of a policy, the slot on Free Dish are being sold on pro-rata basis.