FreeDish's May auction a damp squib with no bidder in sight

FreeDish's May auction a damp squib with no bidder in sight

NEW DELHI: For the second time this year, Doordarshan could not hold its scheduled e-auction for FreeDish on 25 May 2017 because it had no bidder.

Even as the public service broadcaster was prepared to set a record by holding a second e-auction in May, this turned out to be damper. The earlier e-auction which had been called off was on 11 April 2017.

Although there was no official confirmation, learnt from DD sources that the auction could not be held because there was no applicant.

In many ways, this is a repetition for the pubcaster in the sense that the e-auctions for the primary channels of DD National were postponed twice last year. A DD official refused to comment on whether this was because of the sharp increase in the reserve price.

However, FreeDish bagged three new general entertainment channels in the 34th e-auction earlier this month.

The e-auction was confined to only non-news and current affairs channels with a reserve price of Rs 80 million as in the e-auction held on 9 May when Sony Wah, Zee Anmol Cinema, and 9X Jalwa successfully bid to come on the platform.

The Indian 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.

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

DD had also upped its payment structure. The participation amount (EMD) in the e-Auction was Rs.28 million – up from Rs 15 million along with processing fee of Rs.25,000 (non-refundable, up from Rs 10,000).

Even the payment structure for successful bidders had been made stricter. The first installment of 25 per cent of the bid price with the applicable service tax had to be paid within one month from date of placement of channel. The second installment of 25 per cent of the total bid price along with the applicable service tax had to be paid within four months of placement of channel.

The third installment of remaining amount after adjusting the participation fee and previous installments but adding the applicable service tax was to be deposited within seven months of placement of channel.

If any of the installments is not paid in time, a penal interest of 14.5 per cent per annum will be levied. And if there is failure in depositing an installment for two months, the deposited participation amount along with any installment paid will be forfeited and the channel discontinued after a 21-day discontinuation notice.

Although Free Dish 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.

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.