DD's DTH ups carriage fee, earns Rs 736 mn from e-auction of 29 slots

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan has earned revenue of Rs 736.1 million from the e-auction of 29 slots to private broadcasters on the country’s only free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) platform, DD Direct Plus.

This is over three times per slot DD charged broadcasters for being carried on DD Direct Plus, going up from Rs 8 million last time to Rs 25.35 million. The amount generated before migrating to the e-auction mechanism six months earlier had stood at Rs 168 million from 21 television channels.

The public broadcaster is now expected to put on auction another 87 slots within the next few months as it increases its capacity from 59 to 150 channels.

DD sources told that the pubcaster hoped to make around Rs three billion before 31 March 2012.

Prasar Bharati has conducted the e-auctions in two batches with participation from over 45 private media companies.

In the first leg of auctions, the minimum reserve price per slot was Rs 15 million which was raised to Rs 21.7 million, the lowest successful bid in the first e-auction. Even after the substantial hike in the minimum reserve price in the second-leg of e-auctions, as many as eight broadcasters showed up, of which five become successful.

The highest slot price in the second set of auctions stood at Rs 35 million, 55 per cent higher than the previous highest of Rs 22.5 million that the first auction had fetched in July-end.

In both the e-auctions, the lowest successful bids were 42-44 per cent more than the minimum reserve price while the highest bids on both occasions were 50-55 per cent above the minimum reserve price.

The e-auction was adopted after some private channels challenged the decision of Prasar Bharati last year to remove them without assigning valid and acceptable reasons. The Court then asked the public broadcaster to adopt a transparent system for allocation of slots.

This is the second time that e-auction has worked to the advantage of the national exchequer, the first being 3G and BWA auctions which brought in record revenue. It has now been decided to consider adoption of the e-auction model for programming of slots on Doordarshan as well.

The e-auctions were conducted by NCDEX Spot, Mumbai, an online trading firm. All channels, which had applied for slots or whose agreements were expiring on 30 June 2011, had been asked to participate in the e-auction by depositing a bank guarantee of Rs 15 million.

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