Seven months after the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the state broadcaster Prasar Bharati locked horns over DD Free Dish, there is hope that the Ministry and the board will soon reach a solution.
DD Free Dish reaches 2.4 crore households, which get 80 TV channels without a monthly subscription fee, and earns close to ₹300 crore of revenue a year. Only 25 of these channels are run by Doordarshan and the rest are private infotainment channels. The private channels pay the Prasar Bharati an annual fee to be in the bouquet.
Sources say the Ministry has come a long way from the stance taken when Smriti Irani was heading it. She had asked the Prasar Bharati to stop e-auctions of channels on Free Dish. She wanted a comprehensive review of the Free Dish policy before it was renewed.
The Ministry had asked the state broadcaster to replace the general entertainment channels with those run by the Union Ministries. The Prasar Bharati Board vociferously opposed the Ministry’s directive, saying that such a move would make the bouquet uninteresting. The board had made its displeasure clear at a meeting in February by telling the Ministry that the viewership of Doordarshan would “crash” and private DTH providers will benefit.
“For the past eight months, we have put the e-auctions on hold. The channels that wanted to continue on a pro-rata basis were allowed to do so. However, seven channels opted out, which means we have already been losing revenue,” a senior Prasar Bharati official said.
Long deliberations were held with all the stakeholders, and according to top sources, the Ministry has decided to allow the auction. The final call will be taken during a board meeting on Monday.
Source: The Hindu