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

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NEW DELHI: Doordarshan earned a sum of Rs 1293 million (Rs 129 crore ) by sale of three new slots and extension of the licence of another 24 on the 31st auction of its free-to-air direct-to-home platform FreeDish on 20 and 21 October.

The auction was called off on 6 October 2016 because of technical glitches. The new channels which successfully bid for the slots are -- News State Uttarakhand/Uttar Pradesh, 9x Bajao TV, and a teleshop channel.   

A DD announcement had earlier said the reserve price per slot is Rs 4.3 crore. FreeDish has not raised its reserve price, although the price for one channel went up to Rs 5.3 crore in an earlier auction. The reserve price had been Rs 3.7 crore till last year but was raised to its present level for the 25th e-auction in January.

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

Earlier this month, a senior DD official told indiantelevision.com that the “glitches were experienced by the bidders”. Following several complaints received in this regard, “the Competent Authority has cancelled the e-Auction conducted for the slots on 5 and 6 October 2016”.

DD had made it clear that all registered bidders for the 31st e-Auction will be eligible for participating in the fresh bidding process on the rescheduled date, “which will be communicated in due course of time”.

Meanwhile, DD has formally announced that it is now capable of carrying 104 television channels on its FTA FreeDish and the 24 channels being added to the present 80 channels will be the first to be launched on MPEG4 technology.

DD officials also confirmed that FreeDish will soon be capable of carrying up to 250 channels.

The official confirmed that a Call Centre would be set up for subscribers as soon as MPEG 4 becomes fully operational. The customer care service will have extensive complaint redressal mechanism. 

DD has decided to implement Indian Conditional Access System (iCAS) on DD Freedish Platform. iCAS, an initiative of the Central Government, is being initially introduced in the 24 MPEG-4 Channels. The introduction of iCAS will provide enhanced viewing experience to the viewers.

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.

FreeDish was launched with a modest bouquet of 33 channels in December 2004 and now carries 80 TV channels and 32 radio channels. 

The platform has a bouquet of channels consisting of 22 Doordarshan channels, 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.

After active consultation with all the stakeholders, DD has started the process for rolling out MPEG-4 STBs for its DD Freedish with iCAS. Doordarshan has invited e-Applications for authorisation/empanelment of STB original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to sell / distribute DD approved CAS enabled DD Freedish STBs in India. In this regard a pre bid meeting with the Indian STB manufacturers was held on 3 October 2016.

Once the Indian STB OEMs are authorised by DD, they will start manufacturing quality STBs in India. They will set up their distribution network all over India for selling Indian STBs and providing services to Doordarshan Free Dish viewers.

The participation amount (EMD) in the e-Auction was Rs.1.5 crore which had 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 10 lakh 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 1.1 crore will be deposited within one month of placement and another Rs 1.1 crore within two months along with service tax of 14.5 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.

Tags: e-Auction, FreeDish, Doordarshan, C 1 India, MPEG4, iCAS, Prasar Bharati, Set Top Box, Original equipment manufacturers,

Also read: FreeDish ready to beam 104 TV channels; 24 on MPEG4

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