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DD Free Dish earns Rs85 crore in e-auction of channel slots

LiveMint logoLiveMint 05-07-2017 Harveen Ahluwalia

New Delhi: State broadcaster Doordarshan’s free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) platform DD Free Dish earned Rs85.10 crore in an e-auction held on Tuesday to award 11 channel slots to private broadcasters. This was the highest amount earned by Free Dish in an auction ever.

Out of the total 11 slots put up for sale in the auction, three were slated for news and current affairs channels, while the rest were for non-news channels.

“Nine channels have renewed their slots on DD Free Dish and will continue after the expiry of their respective annual agreements. Two new non-news and current affairs channels of Star India Private Limited, which were not on DD Free Dish earlier, have also succeeded in getting the slots,” said Supriya Sahu, director general at Doordarshan, in a statement.

Currently, DD Free Dish has 22 million subscribers, according to recent estimates from television viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) India, shared by Doordarshan. The platform carries 80 channels including private entertainment channels like Star Utsav, Sony Pal, Zee Anmol, Rishtey and news channels like Aaj Tak, ABP News and News 24.

This comes after DD’s failure to receive any applications in the last two out of three Free Dish auctions due to high reserve prices. In March, DD Free Dish nearly doubled its reserve prices for non-news channels to Rs8 crore, up from Rs4.8 crore. The reserve price for news and current affairs channels was fixed at Rs6.50 crore.

In the three auctions planned since March, DD had received no application in two auctions and had managed to earn only Rs24 crore in another.

An executive at one of the leading private broadcasters explained that broadcasters had no option but to spend a higher amount on Free Dish. “Private broadcasters had to go back to Free Dish to tap rural advertising and earn revenue,” the executive said.

“The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) is micro managing the sector and is favouring cable distribution platforms at the cost of broadcasters and consumers. Because of this, broadcasters are not able to monetize content properly through subscription revenue,” the executive added.

For the year 2016-17, Doordarshan recorded the highest-ever revenue from DD Free Dish at Rs264.17 crore, a 47% increase from a year ago. Free Dish had generated Rs180 crore in 2015-16

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