DD to demand carriage fee from broadcasters for DTH service

NEW DELHI: Prasar Bharati has decided that it would demand an annual carriage fee of Rs.10 million from private broadcasters to be on its DTH platform, DD Direct+.

"We have written to some broadcasters on this and are awaiting their response," Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma said today during an annual Press meet.
According to him, after DD Direct+ increases its capacity to 51 television channels from May, a fee would be taken for being aboard the world's first subscription-free DTH service, which on last count had approximately 1.1 million subscribers.

Over 40 broadcasters, including some Indian and foreign religious channels, German pubcaster DeutcheWelle and the proposed AlJazeera International English news channel, are waiting in the queue to hop on to DD Direct+ seeing its obvious advantages.

"We don't anticipate any problems regarding drop-outs from the present lot as many channels are waiting with the requisite fee in hand for our nod," Sarma said, adding some entertainment channels, including South Indian ones, too have evinced interest.
However, charging a monthly subscription from the subscribers has been ruled out. "We want to remain free for some more time," Sarma explained.

To subscribe to DD Direct+ DTH service, a consumer has to buy the hardware for approximately Rs. 3,000, which can be considered as one time investment. No monthly subscription is charged from subscribers.

Apart from DD Direct+, the other DTH player in the country is Subhash Chandra-controlled Dish TV. A Rupert Murdoch and Tata joint venture is proposing to launch Tata Sky DTH service later this year in market that might yield 15 per cent to DTH services over the next two-three years.

Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati informed that a low-cost DTH set-top box has been launched in the market for radio channels.

"We are quite excited by this and would strengthen our services to take advantage of this low-cost receiver," All India Radio DG Brijeshwar Singh said.

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