Television

FreeDish aims to reach 150 channels, earned Rs 3 bn in a year

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan earned revenue of Rs 2.5356 billion during 2016-17 from e-auctions of television slots on its free to air Free Dish direct-to-home platform. In comparison, DD had earned Rs 1.8034 billion in 2015-16, the minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore told the Parliament.

Rathore said the last e-auction - the 32nd e-Auction - on 14 February 2017 fetched Rs. 655 million. Despite the reserve price of Rs 48 million, the highest bid for a slot was Rs 73 million for Sony Pal.

Meanwhile, Doordarshan sources told indiantelevision.com that FreeDish earned Rs 2.8665 billion through auction of 54 slots in six auctions from 30 March 2016 to 14 February 2017.

Explaining the differential between the figure given by the Minister and that given by DD, these sources said as money was paid in installments within six months of the e-auction, the figure given in the Parliament was the money actually received.

The reserve price in the first five auctions was Rs 43 million and was raised to Rs 48 million in the 32nd auction.

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. Having touched the figure of 104 with its 32nd Auction, DD is now holding another auction on 11 April in as part of its aim to reach the figure of 150 by the middle of the year.

With this new leap, DD had also raised its reserve price to Rs 48 million per slot from the hitherto Rs 43 million for the mid-February auction. The reserve price had been Rs 37 million till 2015 but was raised to Rs 43 million for the 25th e-auction in January 2016.

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

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 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. DD earned Rs 980 million in 2014-15, Rs 1800 million in 2015-16, and Rs 1040 million till September in 2016-17.

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.

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