An association of FTA channels appeals to Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to place their channels on Prasar Bharati’s DTH Platform DD Free Dish. As the advertising revenue has dipped to 80% the FTA channels have been struggling to stay afloat. A letter has been written to the Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar stating,
Commercial advertisements are the sole revenue stream for Free-to-Air channels to support all its costs of Content, Operations, Carriage, Marketing and Transmission and in the current scenario, we have been struggling to deal with a steep de-growth and the biggest impact is on advertising revenues that is likely to see a 70-80% pullback.
The request has been made by the consortium to take commercial viability & sustainability of FTA channels into consideration, especially at this time when it is made freely available to all the sections of society.
The letter thanked the Ministry for making the ‘Electronic Media’ one of the “Essential Services” during the lock down period.
The consortium also said that, as early as end of March, we all in our individual capacities had reached out to DD Free Dish with a certain request of waving carriage fees for a quarter (April, May and June) owed by us to them in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.
In response of which we were in receipt of letter dated April 7, 2020 offering a deferred payment schedule in lieu of the waiver of 3 months’ outstanding payments sought for, and that too with a provision for furnishing a bank guarantee (valid upto 31.07.2020) of equivalent amount. Availing the said relief has been subjected to interest levy at 5.7% per annum and GST on the interest amount.
The aforesaid relief would not serve the purpose at this juncture, but instead put additional hardships on the Company in terms of bank guarantee charges, interest payments and GST amounts with effectively no relief on the total carriage fee payments.
In light of the current adverse business environment, our request requires a lot more sympathetic consideration, considering our revenues have been eroded. There are few channels which have been recently launched on 01.04.2020 and they are facing the brunt with no revenues at all.
As responsible corporate citizens of this nation, upon the request of our Hon’ble Prime Minister it has become our foremost duty to pay all our salaries on time which in turn will ensure that livelihood of hundreds of people. We wish to draw your attention once again to the fact that with business coming down to 10-15% of normal monthly business, we will be only in a position to disburse salaries and any more expense burden in the current & coming months will affect our salary paying capacity in such marginalised incomes.
We, therefore, humbly place our request in front of your kind self which is a waiver of 100% Carriage Fees due to PrasarBharati for first quarter (April, May and June) and 50% for second quarter i.e. (July, August and September) for Channels who have secured MPEG-2 slots on Prasar Bharati’s Free Dish Platform during the recently held 44th E-auction.