New Delhi: Hoping to leverage their experience of conducting e-auctions for coal blocks, minerals and precious metals, around half a dozen public sector entities are now in the race to bag the Prasar Bharati contract for conducting the first-ever e-auctions for TV channel slots on the DD Direct Plus DTH platform. The move to e-auction TV channel slots is in line with the government’s vision of allocating scarce natural resources via a transparent auctioning mechanism.
Responding to the tender floated by Prasar Bharati last month, e-auction specialists like MMTC, Telecommunications Consultants India Ltd (TCIL), mjunction services ltd (50:50 JV between SAIL and Tata Steel) and the State Trading Corporation among others have applied. The contract is expected to be awarded within a day or two, sources in Prasar Bharati said.
As first reported by FE in May, Prasar Bharati will auction 200 channel slots this year on its free-to-air DTH platform to the highest bidder for a duration of one year. DD Direct Plus has a subscriber base of 8-9 million and that is why it is preferred by private broadcasters who can then ask advertisers for better spot rates.
As opposed to DD Direct Plus, the half a dozen private DTH operators tend to charge a minimum of R2.5-3 crore of annual carriage fee to accommodate channels, making it an expensive proposition for many broadcasters.
For the coming e-auctions, Prasar Bharati has fixed the minimum reserve price of R1.5 crore per channel slot (up from the R60 lakh per channel annual carriage fee earlier). It hopes to generate at least R400 crore in revenues from the yearly auctions, thereby becoming financially independent. Currently, the information and broadcasting ministry allocates funds under the Plan and non-Plan support to meet the operational and capital expenditure of the public broadcaster.
“The e-auctions are scheduled for later this month or early August. The shortlisting of channels is already in the final stages,” a senior official in Prasar Bharati said. In the first stage of e-auctions, around 15-18 slots on DD Direct Plus will be put out for bidders. The next auction for 175-180 channels will happen in December, sources in Doordarshan told FE.
Already, Prasar Bharati has received applications from 30-35 free-to-air channels which are interested to participate in the bidding process by agreeing to pay the minimum reserve price of R1.5 crore per channel. “The response from channels has been good,” the official said.
However, in the latest e-auctions, only Indian broadcasters will be allowed to participate as the policy for allowing foreign broadcasters is still under works, sources said.
Source: The Financial Express