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DD FreeDish 67th e-auction for 16 channels in progress

The 67th E-auction and 5th annual e-auction for allotment of vacant MPEG 2 slots on DD Free Dish platform for the period April1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 being conducted by Prasar Bharti is in progress.

It started on March 13. Only satellite channels licensed by Ministry of I&B are allowed to participate in the E-auction. International Public Broadcasters licensed by the Ministry of I&B are also allowed to participate.

Categorization of TV channels in different buckets in accordance with genres/language of channel for the allotment period is as below:

Bucket A+ GEC (Hindi) channels Bucket A Movie (Hindi) channels, Teleshopping channels (All language) Bucket B Music (Hindi) channels, Sports (Hindi) channels, All channels of Bhojpuri language Bucket C News & Current Affairs (Hindi) channels Bucket D All other remaining Genre of Hindi, Devotional/Spiritual/Ayush, all genres of Marathi, Punjabi & Urdu channels, News & Current affairs (English channels) Bucket R1 This bucket is for all channels in languages not covered above.

If a particular Indian language is represented on DD Free Dish by any channel(s) under Bucket R1 for 2 years continuosly then that concerned language shall be deemed as represented and shall be shifted to Bucket R1 to Bucket D from next year.

Details of bids

Watch this space for regular updates on progress of auction

Day Five, March 17, Friday
The first round of auctions for Bucket C ended with ABP News winning the sixth slot for Rs 17.1 crore.

All other news channels competing for a DD Freedish slot will be eligible to bid when the second round of e-auctions begins after the completion of the first round of Bucket D reserved for all other genres including spiritual channels.

Unlike previous e-auctions, there will be no second round for every bucket. The second round will begin with Bucket A+ which will have six slots with a base price of Rs 16 crore onwards and all the channels falling under every bucket can participate in the bidding process.

The auctions for the next six slots will be called the third round in which all the genres except Bucket A+ can participate at the base price of Rs 13 crore onwards.

News channels can participate in any of the rounds at higher base prices but the next round reserved for them is actually the fifth round with a base price of Rs 8 crore onwards.

The slot that goes vacant mid-year or remains unfilled during scheduled e-auction may be filled on a pro-rata basis through e-auction process.

Day Four, March 16, Thursday
A few news broadcasters started bidding today. However, several other news channels have stuck to the boycott calls made by their respective industry associations.

The first slot under Bucket C, which is for news & current affairs (Hindi) channels, has been picked up for Rs 19.85 crore and the second slot picked up for Rs 16.55 crore.

Goswami, who was the signatory of the letter to the minister, bought the second slot for Rs 16.55 crore for his Hindi news channel Republic Bharat.

The other three winners were News18 India, TV9 Bharatvarsh and Zee News who shelled out Rs 19.85 crore, Rs 14.55 crore and Rs 15.5 crore, respectively.

The first round of e-auction for Bucket C reserved for Hindi news channels is witnessing fierce bidding.

The base price for Bucket C is Rs 7 crore.

The bidding for the third slot has started.

Day Three, March 15, Wednesday
Bucket B. The price for a MPEG-2 slot on DD Freedish went through the roof in the first round of e-auction for Bucket A and B on day three with Zee Anmol Cinema paying Rs 24.05 crore, double the base price of Rs 12 crore for Bucket A.

In Bucket B also, Zee paid Rs 21.2 crore to secure a slot for its Bhojpuri channel – Zee Biskope – which is more than double the base price of Rs 10 crore for the bucket.

The other slot winners in Bucket B were Sports18, MTV Beats and Mastii, with each paying over Rs 17 crore each.

The bidding on day three was quite aggressive and fierce as only five slots were sold.

Day 2, March 14, Tuesday
Eleven channels secured slots, six in the Bucket A+ category (Hindi GEC) and five in Bucket A category (movie channels). The reserve prices for Bucket A + and Bucket A were Rs 15 crore and Rs 12 crore, respectively.

The bid amount for six slots of Bucket A+ exceeded Rs 17 crore for each winner over the base price of Rs 15 crore. The winners in this bucket were – Manoranjan TV, Manoranjan Grand, Shemaroo TV, The Q, Dangal and Big Magic.

On the other hand, the price of a MPEG-2 slot under Bucket A was between Rs 16 crore to Rs 17.3 crore for five slots sold to B4U Kadak, Star Utsav Movies, B4U Movies, Rishtey Cineplex and B4U Dhamaka. The base price for this category in the first round was Rs 12 crore. The highest bid for this category was Rs 17.5 crore. In the Bucket A category, the public broadcaster has earned more than Rs 85 crore.

News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) and the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA), which represent almost all the national and regional news channels of the country, decided not to participate in the ongoing DD Free Dish MPEG-2 e-auction. In a letter to I&B Minister Anurag Thakur, NBF and NBDA stated that the auction procedure was skewed against all news and current affairs channels.

The news broadcasters have raised three key concerns about the DD Free Dish e-auction. Firstly, the number of slots allocated to the news genre on DD Free Dish has been reduced from 14 in 2022 to just six this year. Secondly, they expressed worry that the altered auction methodology for DD Free Dish slots will allow entertainment broadcasters to bid for slots previously reserved for news channels. Lastly, they highlighted the lack of a scientific basis to determine the actual reach of DD Free Dish, which is an unencrypted platform.

All these factors, the news broadcasters feel, will drive up the price of DD Free Dish slots and make them unviable for the news channels.

Day One-March 13, Monday. The Q, Dangal, Shemaroo TV, Manoranjan Grand, Manoranjan TV and Big Magic bagged slots in the Hindi GEC category. The highest bid in the category was placed at Rs 17.9 crore. Prasar Bharati is estimated to have collected more than Rs 100 crore from this category. There were six slots in this category.

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