Television

DD Metro offer gets cold response

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Industry sources however, say a bid has been put in for the 11:00 PM to 12:30 PM slot by the Delhi-based Moving Pictures Company (India) Ltd promoted by Ramesh Sharma, its chairman and managing director. The time band covers two slots - 11 PM to 12 midnight and 12 midnight to 12:30 am. The advantage for Moving Pictures is that here there is no floor price, unlike the other time slots from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM This bit of information could not be confirmed at the time of posting the report.

The pre-qualification bids, which were opened at 3:30 PM today, came up empty for the prime time band. This cold shouldering of the new DD tender offer has sent out a strong message that in these difficult times, with channels having enough hassles running their own operations, the headache of managing DD Metro and more so the mandarins behind it was just not worth the effort. It also makes virtually irrelevant tomorrow's opening of financial bids which are scheduled for 3:30 PM at Doordarshan Bhavan in Delhi.

The fact that HFCL Nine Broadcasting, which holds the rights for the prime time slot 7:00 to 10:00 PM on DD Metro till September did not put in a bid means that the HFCL-Kerry Packer promoted company has called DD's bluff. But a statement put out by Ravina Raj Kohli, CEO, HFCL Nine Broadcasting, still holds out hope that, at the end of the day, it will be Nine Broadcasting that finally ends up renewing its deal for the prime time slot on DD Metro.

And what of Zee Telefilms' "interest" in the 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM slot? Partha Sinha, senior vice-president marketing, who had been quoted on 10 June saying: ?We are positively disposed. I see no reason why Zee should not make an expression of interest in that channel,? was singing a a different tune today.

Sinha says that a detailed study of the whole thing in the interim led Zee to conclude that bidding for the slot was not a viable proposition. "And not just in financial terms, but looking at the bigger picture too," he adds.

Star India CEO Peter Mukerjea brushed off the matter in a single line response "Star did not not bid, and that's more than enough said on this issue," he says.

In a signed statement Nine Gold CEO Kohli had this to say:

"We at HFCL Nine Broadcasting are not surprised at the outcome of Doordarshan's call for fresh bids for time slots on DD Metro. Given the unrealistic terms and conditions proposed by DD, the bid for prime time on DD Metro looked commercially unviable.

"As stated earlier, HFCL Nine Broadcasting India LTD will be happy to initiate fresh talks with DD on the terms and conditions proposed earlier by us. These terms and conditions have been drafted based on our experience with DD Metro, and offer the best financial terms to DD without diluting the brand image of the national broadcaster.

"Having kept DD's best interests in mind for the past 10 months, we at HFCL Nine Broadcasting continue to believe that we are the best partners for DD Metro and look forward to continuing and strengthening our existing relationship."

With industry saying nyet to Prasar Bharati, it's now over to the pubcaster to make the next move.

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