Times Now Navbharat, Aaj Tak, News Nation get FreeDish berths
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1 year ago 06:00:29am Television

Times Now Navbharat, Aaj Tak, News Nation get FreeDish berths

New Delhi, 20-March-2023, By IBW Team

Times Now Navbharat, Aaj Tak, News Nation get FreeDish berths

In the auctions for A+ category that happened yesterday for slots on FreeDish, Hindi news channels Times Now Navbharat, Aaj Tak and News Nation have managed to be successful, amongst others, after paying hefty winning bids.

According to industry sources, the auctions for MPEG 2 slots on Doordarshan FreeDish took place on a Sunday as a technical glitch had stopped the proceedings on Saturday.

The winning bids, according to the sources, were Times Now Navbharat Rs.15.15 crore, Aaj Tak Rs. 15.10 crore and News Nation Rs. 15.05 crore.

The price in A+ Bucket was high as it is a category that’s meant for general entertainment channels, but tweaked rules now allow channels from all genres to bid at the end of all rounds if slots are available in the A+ category.

Meanwhile, despite initial protests from TV news channels’ associations, the member-channels last week had taken part in the auction of Bucket C (news and current affairs category) slots on pubcaster Doordarshan’s FreeDish (http://www.indianbroadcastingworld.com/several-news-channels-buy-dd-free-dish-slots/), a FTA DTH platform.

FreeDish, a venture of public broadcaster Prasar Bharati,  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 this free to air DTH platform.

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 much higher than the base price.

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.

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(s).

“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.”

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”.

MPEG4 Slots’ Channels: According to Prasar Bharati, 11 TV channels have been successful in  finding berths on MPEG4 slots in 5th annual e-auction  held earlier for the period of April 2023-March 2024

The TV channels who would be beaming in MPEG4 format via FreeDish are Aastha Bhajan, Aastha Tamil, Bansal News, Chardikla Time TV, MH ONE DIL SE, News 18 UP/UK, News State UP/UK, RT, Sudarshan News, Swadesh News and Vedic.

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