Even as auctions for Bucket D MPEG2 slots on Doordarshan FreeDish continued yesterday, some major TV news channels, who are yet to find a berth on the free to air DTH platform, are likely to bid when Bucket A+ is thrown open again to all genres.
Despite protests from TV news channels’ associations, the member-channels took part in the auction of Bucket C slots on pubcaster Doordarshan’s FreeDish (http://www.indianbroadcastingworld.com/several-news-channels-buy-dd-free-dish-slots/), a FTA DTH platform.
FreeDish, according to industry estimates, has over 45 million subscriber base, mostly in rural and semi-urban areas, thus forming a big source for eyeballs that could be monetised in the form of advertising revenue. And, it’s the eyeballs that force Indian television news channels to bid aggressively for limited shelf space on FreeDish.
The present auctions that are underway are for the period April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 and are considered important revenue generators for the pubcaster.
The reserve price for Bucket C, earmarked for TV news channels, this time was Rs. 7 crore in the first round and Rs. 8 crore in the subsequent round. However, the winning bids went higher than the base price.
According to information available from industry sources, the news channels that are yet to find a slot on FreeDish include biggies like Aaj Tak, India TV, Times Now, Nav Bharat, India News, News Nation, Bharat 24, News24 and Good News Today.
Meanwhile, it may be mentioned that on March 14, two leading industry associations — News Broadcasters Federation (NBF) and News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA) — had written to Minister of Information & Broadcasting Anurag Thakur protesting against the methodology of the auctions, saying it was “skewed” against the TV news channels.
Both the associations had also sought a meeting with Thakur and senior Prasar Bharati officials.
The letter, jointly signed by NBF president Arnab Goswami and NBDA president Avinash Pandey, had stated: “This year, the auction procedure is skewed against all news and current affairs channels. Not only are fewer slots available, but because of the way the auction has been structured, we are placed in a relative disadvantage vis a vis other genre.
“We would also like to highlight the absence of a scientific basis to calculate the number of viewers under DDFD (DD FreeDish). Therefore, we believe that this is likely to make the cost of bidding for slots on Freedish prohibitive for us and against our common interest.”
Pointing out that the news channels would like to collaborate with FreeDish as it offers unique opportunities, the associations’ letter had said, “We would therefore strive to work with Prasar Bharti, as we have done in the past, to reach the widest audience and benefit from the vast and very important segment of the audience that Prasar Bharti alone reaches through Freedish.”
The news channels had highlighted they “provide a public service” and would “always like to reach the maximum number of viewers as news, current affairs and information providers”.