Highly placed sources informed exchange4media that the decision was taken 15 days ago and the ministry is expected to announce the auction date by this week. However, there has been no official communication to the broadcasters from the ministry yet.
After the suspension of the auction in October 2017, when Smriti Irani was heading the ministry, Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) had directed public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to carry channels whose contract had expired or was about to expire on a pro-rata basis until it comes up with a new business model. The channels that are available on a pro-rata basis pay the subscription fee on a monthly basis.
The last e-auction took place in July 2017, in which DD-Freedish had earned Rs 85.10 crore and had awarded slots to 11 private broadcasters.
As reported, almost 50 of the 60 channels on DD FreeDish cater to the Hindi region. It is expected that Doordarshan will open a different category for regional channels.
Talking about the auction, an industry observer said, “They should not increase the base price because then it will become unbearable. Secondly, if they want to give space to regional broadcasters, the base price for them could be different because they are smaller channels.”
It is believed that DD will review the base price, which is currently around Rs 8 crore. Industry experts say if the auction starts off with this base point, smaller broadcasters might go off.
A senior executive with a leading broadcaster said, “As of now, we haven’t received any invitation from Doordarshan. As and when we know about it, we will take a call whether we want to be there or not.”
Meanwhile, the broadcasters are waiting for the new tariff regime which is expected to be out on September 25, 2018.