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DD FreeDish auction next week, reserve price is Rs 80 million

NEW DELHI: Even as the Parliament was informed earlier last month that Doordarshan’s DTH platform was soon getting approval to increase this capacity to 250 channels over the next two years, FreeDish is all set to hold its 34th e-auction on 9 May 2017 to fill vacant slots.

After final trials of MPEG4 and the success of the 32nd auction in February, the reserve price for the next auction has been raised to Rs 80 million from Rs 48 million per slot.

Until last year, the reserve price was Rs 43 million but one channel fetched the bid of Rs 70 million in the auction held on 14 February 2017.

Earlier last year, the price for one channel went up to Rs 53 million and gave DD the confidence to raise the price which had been Rs 37 million till 2015 but was raised to Rs 43 million for the 25th e-auction in January 2016.

DD got a jolt last month when its auction slated for 11 April could not be held. Although there was no official confirmation, indiantelevision.com learns that the FreeDish auction could not be held because there were no applicants.

In many ways, this was a repetition in the sense that the e-auctions for the primary channels of DD National were postponed twice last year.

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.   

The participation amount (EMD) in the e-Auction is Rs.28 million – up from 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.25,000 (non-refundable, up from Rs 10,000) 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. The participation fee will be adjusted against the third and final installment for the respective channel.

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.

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 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 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.

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 Ministry had itself said  in Parliament in February that HITS (Head-end In The Sky), private DTH and DD FreeDish are the options in remote rural areas while discussing the issue of the concerns expressed by operators that over 20 per cent of rural and remote areas were not financially and technically viable.

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. The last e-auction - the 32nd e-Auction - on 14 February 2017 fetched Rs. 655 million. 

 A new era begun with the adoption of MPEG4 helping FreeDish take the first major step to mark towards its target of 104 television channels by March end with its 32nd e-auction which helped it cross the capacity of eighty channels. FreeDish touched the figure of 104 with its 32nd Auction.

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.

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

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