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Prasar Bharati invites fresh tenders for DD Metro; last date for submission 4 July

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Confirming reports that pubcaster Prasar Bharati had decided to offer fresh bids for slots on Doordarshan's Metro Channel, advertisements appeared today in national newspapers inviting tenders for bulk airtime sales of 60-minute slots for a period of three years.

The tenders are for prime time slots between 7:00pm and 11:00pm. The slots are being auctioned without any floor price. The slots put up for bidding are segregated into four different 60-minute time bands - 7:00pm-8:00pm; 8:00pm-9:00pm; 9:00pm-10:00pm and 10:00pm-11:00pm. The last day for collecting the proposal forms is 3 July.

Reports indicate that the decision to call for fresh tenders was made two days after the last date for opening initial bids turned up blank. There were no proposals from the private broadcaster to bid for the 7:00-11:00pm prime time slots, as the floor price (RS 975 million for the 7:00pm to 10:00pm slot) was seen as being way too high.

In fact there was only one bid - from the Delhi-based content provider Moving Picture for a reported RS 5 million. This was for the late night slot (11:00pm to 00:30 am) slot which had no floor price attached.

The application for the new tender begins on 27 June, while the last day for the submitting the fresh tender is set as 4 July. According to the public notice issued by Prasar Bharati, the pre-qualification bid will be opened on 4 July at 3:30 PM while the financial bid will open on 5 July at 3:30 PM

Private broadcasters have not been very forthcoming on how this new offer would be received but there are issues other than cost involved for them.

The stipulation that only fresh content can be shown on the channel has raised hackles. There is also the feeling that Prasar Bharati will have to clearly spell out what it wants for the channel. Giving "piecemeal offers" makes it difficult for private broadcasters to map out long-term strategies, is the sentiment.

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