FTA channels seek waiver of carriage fees

So that the broadcasting sector can tide over the current COVID-19 crisis

MUMBAI: A consortium of free-to-air (FTA) broadcasters whose channels are placed on Prasar Bharati’s DTH platform DD free dish has requested information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar for a waiver of 100 per cent carriage fees for the first quarter (April-June) and 50 per cent for the second quarter (July-September) for those channels that have secured MPEG-2 slots during the recent 44th e-auction. 

The consortium has sought the minister’s intervention in this matter so that the broadcasting sector can tide over the current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a letter to the minister, the FTA channels’ heads stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted all sectors of the Indian economy. 

“Advertisement bookings have nosedived by 80 per cent. Commercial advertisements are the sole revenue stream for free-to-air channels to support all its costs of content, operations, carriage, marketing and transmission, and in the current scenario, we have been struggling to deal with a steep de-growth and the biggest impact is on advertising revenues that is likely to see a 70-80 per cent pullback,” said the letter.

The broadcasters said that in line with government’s vision of making best of entertainment accessible freely to all socio-economical class of the population through the DD free dish platform, all the FTA channels play a very important role especially for the poorer sections of our society and thus its commercial and sustainability must be taken into consideration.

Thanking the government for including electronic media which reaches the length and breadth of the nation as one of the essential services during the lockdown period, the broadcasters assured that they intend to continue reaching out to our millions of viewers on a daily basis “and for which our teams are working tirelessly.”

When in March the channels reached out for waiving carriage fees for the April-June quarter, they got a letter on 7 April offering a deferred payment schedule instead of a three-month waiver, and “that too with a provision for furnishing a bank guarantee.”

The FTA channels, in their letter, said that this would not serve the purpose at this juncture, “but instead put additional hardships on the company in terms of bank guarantee charges, interest payments and GST amounts with effectively no relief on the total carriage fee payments.”

In light of the current adverse business environment, the said letter, their request “requires a lot more sympathetic consideration, considering our revenues have been eroded.” There are a few channels which have been recently launched and they are bearing the brunt with no revenues at all.

The channels intimated the minister that with dwindling revenues, it will be difficult for them to pay employees’ salaries, which will affect hundreds of livelihoods.  

Signatories to the letter:

Pradeep Guha, MD, 9X Media Pvt. Ltd.                               

Aditya Pittie, MD, IN 10 Media Pvt. Ltd.

Ajit Joshi, Director, SwamiFilm Entertainment Pvt. Ltd & SuperHit Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd.

Sahib Chopra, Director, Shopping Bazaar Pvt. Ltd.

Manoranjan TV, Manoranjan Movies & Manoranjan Grand

Hitesh Sabharwal, CEO, Cinema 24*7 Pvt. Ltd.

Dr. Darshan Singh & Vishvajit Sharma, Chairman & MD, Teleone Consumers Product Pvt. Ltd.

 Maha Movie, Maha Punjabi, Lord Buddha TV

 Ranvir Singh, Director, Skystar Entertainment Pvt. Ltd

 Rakesh Gupta, Sadhna Media Group

BP Aggarwal, MD, Surya Sagar Communication Pvt. Ltd., Surya Cinema & Surya Bhojpuri

Kailasnath Adhikari, promoter, Sri Adhikari Brothers- TV Vision Ltd.

Natasha Fernandes, Director, B4U Broadband (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Santosh Garg, Ashirwad Telenetwork Pvt. Ltd.

Manish Shah, Director, Goldmines Telefilms Pvt ltd

Sandeep Gupta, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd.

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