Zee eyeing 7 to 9 slot on DD Metro; Nine Gold noncommital

The Zee Network, which had initially been quite cool to making a bid for slots on national broadcaster Doordarshan's Metro Channel, now says it is interested in making a pitch but only for the 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM slot.

HFCL-Nine Gold, which suffered a setback when national broadcaster Doordarshan threw open bidding for prime time slots on its DD Metro channel, was non-committal when queried how it would respond to Zee's move. A senior official would only say they were keeping a track of the developments and would declare their intentions at the appropriate time.

Partho Sinha, senior vice-president (marketing) for Zee Network said: "After due assessment, we are definitely interested in bidding." It may be recalled that Zee Network CEO RK Singh, while not ruling out making a pitch when bidding was initially opened, appeared to indicate that there was little likelihood of this happening.

Late last month Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) had invited bids for the prime time band of 7:00 to 10:00 PM and for the 10:00 PM to 00:30 am slot on DD Metro for a period of three years. Dividing the time band into one-hour slots, it laid the floor price of Rs 225 million, RS 325 million, RS 425 million and RS 175 million for the four hourly slots between 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM

Prasar Bharti said the pre-qualification bids would be opened on 18 June and financial bids the next day and that bidders would be allowed to be present at the time of opening of both bids.

Nine Golds' rights to the 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM slot comes to an end in September while rights to the 9:00 PM to 10:00 PM slot ceases in October. Last year it had bought up the prime time band on DD Metro for RS 1210 million.

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