Major FTA channels to pull out of DD Free Dish as hope for carriage fee waiver dims

The public broadcaster has offered relaxation on the instalments for three months.

MUMBAI: Businesses have been struggling to stay afloat since the Covid2019 pandemic has broken out in the country. A number of TV channels have since then been in dire straits as productions have paused, leading to a shortage of fresh content coupled with falling advertising revenue. While pay channels can still look at subscription revenue, free-to-air (FTA) channels are running out of options to chalk out a sustainable business model. As the appeal to waive off carriage fee for the public broadcaster-run DD Free Dish has fallen on deaf ears, the chances of FTA channels pulling out of the free DTH platform rise.

While Free Dish has been an inevitable part of FTA channels' strategy, the platform has also generated over Rs 400 crore of revenue on the back of these channels. After a good phase of increased reach post the new tariff order, FTA channels have entered a dark phase due to the pandemic. A consortium of those channels appealed to the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) to waive off carriage fee at least for a quarter.

Even after repeated requests, 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 instalment amount with interest after availing of this deferment for three months n a letter/email dated 17 May. It has also offered to pay 67 per cent of the carriage fee for three months. But the latest notification clearly shows the pubcaster’s firm decision of not waiving off carriage fee to these troubled businesses.

FTA channels are of the view that this move will not help them in the crisis. “The expense remains the same for the channels but advertising revenue comes down at 15-20 per cent that covers only minimum expenses. It does not even cover the full salary of employees while we have decided to pay full salary to our employees. Even if the payment is deferred for three months, we don’t know from where the revenue will come. We don't want the loan but a waiver of the carriage fee. I think it won't help anyone although it depends on sustaining capacity,” Happii Digital and Broadcasting Network director Kailash Adhikari says.

“The decision of Prasar Bharati remains the same; now it's upon the broadcasters. Two to three channels are also suspended from the platform,” he adds. Asked about their plan, he says that they don’t want to withdraw currently. But he adds that if this situation prolongs, then it is a mammoth exercise for everybody in the industry.

“The new notification says they will offer deferment instead of waiver which will offer some liquidity for the short term but the main issue is after three months the burden increases. It’s small support and I think it is not going to make any material impact on the decision or business as such,” a spokesperson of a large FTA broadcaster says. He also mentions that after seeing the latest notification, it might stick to the decision of pulling out from DD Free Dish this month.

He also adds that two to three channels have already gone off. Even if some channels pay now, they can go off later after observing the situation for one month, he adds.

“This move of deferred payment and charges of interest is not something FTA channels were looking at. However, I believe the government is also under pressure to completely waive off because this was through an e-auction that was considered. Under the e-auctions and the policies, only the PMO or a minister at a higher level can take a call on this and I believe it is still unnoticed and unheard at that level,” a spokesperson from a Marathi FTA channel adds.

He notes that if advertising revenue does not fall back in proper books by the month of June, then it will become difficult for people to survive. “We are observing the situation and we believe the lockdown won’t extend beyond 31 May because it is already about 60-plus days that Maharashtra has been under lockdown. So a lot of people will try to kickstart and resume the activity as early as possible because the economy needs to be pushed,” he reflects a gleam of hope.

Notably, Swami Films Entertainment Pvt Ltd which runs two FTA channels on DD Free Dish moved the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against Prasar Bharati for interim relief against disconnection of the channel from its DTH platform. The state broadcaster offered two more alternatives to the broadcaster. The tribunal noted that it was a fair stand with more alternatives being offered to the broadcaster.

Swami Films requested for some more time to consider the alternative reliefs as a final solution and even as an interim arrangement. TDSAT did not pass any interim order till the next date of hearing. 

Latest Reads
IPL governing council clears UAE as venue; Vivo as sponsor

So, the Indian Premier League is moving to the UAE after all. All that it awaits is the official government go-ahead, which is likely to come in the next couple of days or so.  The IPL’s governing council green signaled the holding of the world’s most premium cricket tournament in the UAE on Sunday...

Television TV Channels Sports
IPL, festive season expected to push up ad rev for GECs

After almost four months of hiatus, advertising spend is slowly inching up on TV, especially GECs, which saw shows resume some weeks ago. Experts suggest that whenever consumer behaviour sees a shift, advertising spends have also adjusted.

Television TV Channels GECs
TV actors on resuming work and challenges faced while shooting

Now that most shows have resumed on TV, the entertainment is back on. However, the new experience of shooting is something that even actors are getting used to. While Kumkum Bhagya’s Mugdha Chaphekar is excited to meet her unit and the cast after three months.

Television TV Channels GECs
James Murdoch resigns from News Corp board

MUMBAI: Truly, a saga has come to an end. James Murdoch once considered to be the successor to Rupert Murdoch has resigned from the News Corp board yesterday. James, who helped his father build his Asian empire under Star TV and later at 20th Century Fox and then Fox, was associated with his...

Television TV Channels People
BARC India COO Romil Ramgarhia resigns

NEW DELHI: BARC India COO Romil Ramgarhia has decided to move on from the ratings provider. He joined the organisation in 2014 as a chief business officer and was elevated to COO role about two years back. “Romil Ramgarhia has resigned from the services of BARC India effective 31 July 2020,” shared...

Television TV Channels People
ABP Network to shift from FTA to pay

KOLKATA: The news network which recently decided to reposition its brand identity from ABP News Network to ABP Network is also bringing a change to its business model. ABP Network chief executive officer Avinash Pandey said that the network will soon go pay from its current free-to-air (FTA) model.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
BIG Ganga brings Kajri Utsav, a perfect culmination to its Saawan Celebration

Adding to the abundance of festivities ever-present in August, BIG Ganga, ZEE Entertainment Enterprise Limited’s No. 1 Bhojpuri General Entertainment Channel in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Purvanchal, is leaving no stone unturned in bringing the celebrations right to the doorsteps of its audience....

Television TV Channels Regional
ZEE 24 Kalak Leads Gujarati News Genre

The past week has seen diverse developments across various genres which has increased news consumption exponentially. Ranging from Kargil, Rafale, Sushant Singh case, Covid-19 updates to Ram Mandir Bhoomi Pujan, various happenings have kept the news’ viewers glued to their television sets. In such...

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
Shemaroo op revenue down due to COVID2019 impact

Indian content creator, aggregator distributor, specifically in the media and entertainment industry and now television broadcaster, Shemaroo  Entertainment Ltd (Shemaroo) reported 39.7 percent drop in consolidated operating revenue at Rs 86.2 crore for the quarter ended 30 June 2020.

Television Production House Fiction

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required