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Prasar Bharati relaxes DD FreeDish fees for FTA channels

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MUMBAI: The Covid 2019 pandemic is not just decimating human lives it has also resulted in the broadcasting sector falling sick with shootings ceasing, ad revenues shrivelling, and subscription revenues drying up. To cope up with the rapidly turning toxic business environment, free-to-air (FTA) channels wrote to minister of information &  broadcasting Prakash Javadekar in April seeking a waiver of carriage fees on DD Free Dish. Then strangely there was silence from both sides, apart from a few howls from the FTA owners.

Howevever, reports are that the pubcaster has heeded their plea and given them the option to defer their installments for the next three months or pay them partly.

In a letter/email dated 17 May – which is currently available with Indiantelevision.com -   Prasar Bharati has stated that a channel can avail of deferment from the requirement of paying the carriage fee in an advance monthly statement, up to three months, subject to it furnishing separate bank guarantees towards the amount of each installment amount with interest after availing of this deferment for three months. This deferment is applicable for May, June and July. 

It has also added that the channels have to furnish the bank guarantee by 22 May for the instalment of May and for June, July by 27 May and 27 June respectively. Moreover, if a channel has already paid the instalment for May, it can avail the benefit for the next three months. 

Prasar Bharati has also drawn up another option if a channel finds it difficult to furnish a bank guarantee. Instead of paying the full amount of the installments, it can pay 67 per cent of the carriage fee for three months, that is, May, June and July. However, the balance has to be paid later along with the interest with regular installments.

The channels not seeking any of the relaxations have been offered an incentive of  0.5 per cent on the total payment. Moreover, channels which were removed or had opted out of the platform can also come back by availing these relaxations.

There are close to 150 occupants on DD FreeDish. Thanks to the service’s wide reach and availability, Dangal – a regional language channel -  has more often than not beaten private satellite Hindi entertainment channels to the top spot in BARC’s ranking.

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