If the continued face-off between sector regulator TRAI and broadcasters is a worrying element in these difficult times, another front seems to be simmering that could throw up some more regulatory challenges.
Direct to home (DTH) service providers, including Tata Sky, have asked TRAI to level the playing field with pubcaster Doordarshan’s FTA DTH platform DD Free Dish when it comes to making available pay TV channels to consumers, The Hindu Businessline newspaper reported Wednesday.
The private sector DTH platforms’ contention is: while Free Dish offers several GECs, belonging to top broadcasters such as Sony, Zee, Star India, for free to consumers, the same channels carry a price on them to be paid by consumers of DTH services.
The business newspaper quoted an unnamed industry executive as saying that broadcasters were chasing Doordarshan’s high rural viewership. “In fact, broadcasters are paying Prasar Bharati (DD’s parent) to allow their channels to air on DD Free Dish,” the expert explained.
Prasar Bharati auctions timeslots for broadcasters to air their channels on DD Free Dish and basically charges a carriage fee from TV channels. DD Free Dish subscribers have to make a one-time investment in a dish antennae and a set-top-box, unlike consumers of private sector DTH platforms who pay a monthly subscription too, apart from consumer premise equipment.
“Channels are filing their MRP (maximum retail price) as pay channels with TRAI and are offering the same to us as pay channels making our subscribers pay for it. The same channels are offered free to DD Free Dish. This results in discrimination for both our subscribers and us,” The Hindu Businessline quoted from a letter sent by Tata Sky to TRAI.
According to data reported by the rating company Crisil Research, in FY21, DD Free Dish enjoyed a subscriber base of 40.41 million, while all the other DTH operators put together have 69.57 million subs.
Earlier reports on Fee Dish by Indianbroadcastingworld.com can be read at: http://www.indianbroadcastingworld.com/dd-free-dish-free-tv/ and http://www.indianbroadcastingworld.com/prasar-bharati-invites-bids-for-dd-free-dish-slots/.