Television

FreeDish's first e-auction after upgradation in Mar

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NEW DELHI: A new era begins for Doordarshan’s free to air direct to home platform FreeDish as it takes the first major step to mark towards its target of 104 television channels by March end with its 32nd e-auction which will help it cross the existing capacity of eighty channels.

With MPEG4 under final trials and existing channels having received extensions for their licences, the next e-auction of DD FreeDish is slated for 14 February 2017.

With this new leap, DD has also raised its reserve price to Rs 48 million per slot from the hitherto Rs 43 million. Earlier, the price for one channel went up to Rs 53 million and gave DD the confidence to raise the pricem which had been Rs 37 million till 2015 but was raised to Rs 43 million for the 25th e-auction in January 2016.

The e-Auction will be conducted by M/s. C1 India Pvt. Ltd., Noida which also conducted the FM Radio Phase III auctions on behalf of Prasar Bharati.   

DD refused to disclose the number of slots being put up for e-auction as officials claim this leads to unhealthy practices.

Doordarshan had in October last year formally announced that FreeDish was capable of carrying 104 television channels and 24 channels would be added to the existing 80 channels after the launch of MPEG4 technology.

While three new channels were added in an auction held over two days in mid-October, another 24 got their licences renewed for a year. DD officials also confirmed that FreeDish will soon be capable of carrying up to 250 channels.

In line with the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, DD has decided to implement Indian CAS (iCAS) on DD FreeDish Platform. iCAS (which is an initiative of the central government) is being introduced in 24 MPEG-4 channels. The introduction of iCAS will provide enhanced viewing experience.

DD officials said these additional 24 MPEG-4 SDTV channels will be available to viewers in FTA mode. The existing viewers will continue to get 80 SDTV channels, but will have to obtain iCAS-enabled authorised set-top boxes for accessing all 104 channels.

Although FreeDish 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 authorised STB dealers.

Slots on DD FreeDish are allocated to private channels through a transparent system of e-auction. DD earned Rs 980 million in 2014-15, Rs 1800 million in 2015-16, and Rs 1040 million till September in 2016-17. The 31st auction brought Rs 1293 million In October 2016.

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. All All India Radio stations also piggy-back on the platform.

The participation amount (EMD) in the e-Auction is Rs.15 million which has to be deposited in advance before or by 12 noon on the date of auction along with processing fee of Rs.10,000 (non-refundable) in favour of PB (BCI) Doordarshan Commercial Service, New Delhi.

Incremental amount for the auction will be Rs one million and the time for every slot e-auction will be of fifteen minutes duration. This may be extended by five minutes if a bid is received before the closing time.

Of the reserve price, Rs 11 million will be deposited within one month of placement and another Rs 11 million within two months along with service tax of 15 per cent on the bid amount.

The balance bid amount will be deposited within six months, failing which the deposited amount will be forfeited and the channel discontinued after a 21-day discontinuation notice.

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.

Also read:

FreeDish ready to beam 104 TV channels; 24 on MPEG4   

Three new TV channels join DD FreeDish bouquet; 24 get extension

Next FreeDish auction after MPEG4 operationalisation

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