Television

FreeDish creates record, sells 11 slots for Rs 851 million

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NEW DELHI: Doordarshan’s FreeDish earned a record Rs 851 million in the 36th e-auction, auctioning eleven slots including three news channels.

For the first time, the reserve price for general entertainment channels was Rs 80 million but the reserve price for news and current affairs channels was reduced to Rs 65 million.

Doordarshan netted Rs 67 million as the highest for one of the news channels through the auction of the news channels, DD Director-General Supriya Sahu informed indiantelevision.com.

Among the eight general entertainment channels, the highest bid received was for Rs 84 million.

The channels that have successfully bid for a slot on FreeDish this time round include News18 India, Zee Hindustan, Zee News, Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Rishtey, B4U Music, Housefull Movies and Bhojpuri Cinema.

With the completion of MPEG4 trials, the total strength of the platform will go up to 104, expectedly the end of July. Earlier this year, Parliament was informed FreeDish had got approval to increase this capacity to 250 channels and DD sources had told indiantelevision.co that will happen in the third quarter of 2018.

In line with the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, DD has implemented Indian CAS (iCAS) on DD FreeDish Platform. iCAS (which is an initiative of the central government) was introduced in the auction held last month. The introduction of iCAS will provide enhanced viewing experience.

DD officials said the existing viewers will continue to get 80 SDTV channels and 32 radio channels, but will have to obtain iCAS-enabled authorized set-top boxes for accessing all new channels.

Although Free Dish will remain free-to-air with no monthly or periodic fee, the viewers will be required to register with DD FreeDish on getting the new STB from Doordarshan authorized STB dealers.

DD officials said implementation of iCAS and authorisation of STB original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by Doordarshan will give a major thrust to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’. At present, a majority of STBs are imported. However, the introduction of iCAS will help in standardization of STBs and encourage quality STB manufacturing in India.

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