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FreeDish: English news channel among two come aboard (Updated)

NEW DELHI: Two more television channels, including the first English news channel, have come on board Doordarshan’s FreeDish platform. Though there were no bidders for the e-auction on 25 May 2017, the two channels were brought on board on a pro rata basis.

Additional director-general Sunil told Indiantelevision.com that RT Movies and NewsX –  which is an English news channel – have been taken on a special pro rata basis till the next auction, which is expected in July.

Explaining the concept of pro rata, he said these channels are paying at a daily rate basis calculated against the reserve price of Rs 80 million for the period when they came on air till the next auction. This works out to Rs 2,19,178 per day.

However, they will have to taken part in the auction to remain on the platform under conditions set by Doordarshan.  

Sunil also said that FreeDish was expected to take a quantum jump from the present eighty TV channels (apart from 32 radio cbannels) to 104 TV channels with the completion of the final trials of MPEG4, about which an announcement had been made in October last year.

On a question about FreeDish becoming capable of 250 channels within the next two years as announced by the Information and Broadcastng Ministry in Parliament in early April, Sunil said this was expected to be achieved by 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.

Although Free Dish will remain free-to-air with no monthly or periodic fee with encryption, the viewers will be required to register with DD FreeDish on getting the new STB from DD 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 standardisation of STBs and encourage quality STB manufacturing in India.

With analogue having been switched off, Parliament had been told that many stakeholders feel that FreeDish is the best option in Phase IV which covers rural India.

The only free-to-air DTH platform in the country, FreeDish earned Rs 2.8665 billion through auction of 54 slots in six auctions from 30 March 2016 to 14 February 2017. In comparison, DD had earned Rs 1.8034 billion in 2015-16.

Despite the reserve price of Rs 48 million till the 32nd auction, the highest bid for a slot was Rs 73 million for Sony Pal. The reserve price in the first five auctions was Rs 43 million and was raised to Rs 48 million in the 32nd auction. The reserve price for the 33rd auction was Rs 80 million.

FreeDish was launched with a modest bouquet of 33 channels in December 2004, and now carries eighty TV channels and 32 radio channels. This includes 22 Doordarshan channels and two parliamentary channels, seven general entertainment channels, 18 movie channels, 13 news channels, seven music channels, three religious channels and eight channels of other genres. The All-India Radio stations also piggy-back on the platform.

Also Read :

MIB favours switching to DTH if consumers have problems with MSOs or LCOs

FreeDish aims to reach 150 channels, earned Rs 3 bn in a year

FreeDish's May auction a damp squib with no bidder in sight

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