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E-Auction for MPEG-4 slots of Free Dish awaited on February 10

Prasar Bharati has invited applications for allotment of MPEG-4 slots of DD Free Dish DTH Platform for the period from April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 through 4th annual e-auction process (57th e-auction).

The last date for submission of applications is February 8, 2022.

Only satellite channels licensed by the Ministry of I&B would be allowed to participate in the e-auction. Only companies holding valid permission from Ministry of I&B or their authorized distributor partners can apply for participation. International public broadcasters licensed by the Ministry of I & B can also participate in e-auction.

MPEG-4/HD satellite receiver is needed to receive the MPEG-4 TV channels. Though as of now all the channels can be received with any MPEG 4 satellite STBs, in future Prasar Bharati can restrict access to the channels and at that time only STBs with i-CAS enabled can receive these channels. The channel provider shall be required to notify viewers of the need to use the Prasar Bharati authorized Set-top-Boxes (STBs).

Prasar Bharati reserves all rights to restrict access of MPEG-4 signals to unauthorized STBs at any point of time. Successful Channels will be required to arrange their own IRD Box in advance at DTH Earth Station, Todapur, New Delhi, to place their Channel on DD Free Dish Platform.

Successful channels will be placed on vacant Logical Channel Numbers (LCNs) of DD Free Dish. After completion of e-auction, successful channel may apply giving three options in the order of preference for allotment of LCN. However, this does not guarantee for placement of successful channel on preferences given for LCN. All such requests shall be considered by Prasar Bharati in accordance with prescribed procedure for allotment allotment/change of LCN to private TV channels, which is available on the website. Prasar Bharati’s decision in this regard shall be final.

News channels have claimed that Prasar Bharati is not being transparent in disclosing the number of slots that are available for auction, which is leading to an inflation in the bidding prices.

The platform has six buckets with varying reserve prices for different genres. The reserve price for the news genre is half that of the entertainment genre, and yet they end up paying more. The non-disclosure of vacant slots on DD Free Dish leads to irrational bids by news channels. The bid in the news genre goes up to Rs 18- 22 crore from individual channels, whereas the movies genre slots are sold for a maximum of Rs 10-12 crore. Prasar Bharati had earned Rs 731.34 crore from the sale of 57 MPEG-2 slots in March 2021, a 23 percent increase from Rs 594.25 crore in the March 2020 auction for 53 MPEG-2 slots. The Hindi movie genre made the highest bid at Rs 194.85 crore as a category, and the single highest bid was from an individual news genre channel at Rs 22.05 crore. Apart from top three-four networks, news channels do not generate so much revenue so that they can spend such a high amount on DD Free Dish.

The e-auction is tentatively scheduled to be held from February 10, 2022.

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