Broadcasters have given a cold shoulder to public broadcaster Doordarshan’s 33rd e-auction of vacant slots on its free direct-to-home (DTH) platform Freedish due to the increase in reserve price to Rs 8 crore.
Riding high on the popularity of Freedish, Doordarshan was looking to squeeze out more carriage fee from the entertainment broadcasters from its 33rd e-auction. DD had hiked the reserve price of vacant non-news slots to Rs 8 crore from Rs 4.8 crore.
A DD official said that broadcasters had stayed away from the auction due to the high reserve price. “No one participated in the 33rd e-auction,” the official stated.
DD Freedish had also for the first time invited only non-news channels to bid for vacant slots. Earlier, the news and non-news channels were allowed to participate in slot auctions. The reserve price was also the same.
With broadcasters in no mood to shell out more for getting a slot on Freedish, DD has gone back to the drawing board. The pubcaster will have to decrease its reserve fee as the highest amount paid by a broadcaster to get on Freedish is Rs 7.6 crore by Hindi GEC Sony Pal.
In January 2016, Sony Pal had renewed its slot for Rs 7.6 crore. However, in the e-auction held in February, the channel had renewed its slot for a reduced price of Rs 7.3 crore. In FY17, DD had earned an average of Rs 5.1 crore from the sale of 54 slots. Its total earnings stood at Rs 275.4 crore.
“The Prasar Bharati board is seized of the matter. I am sure a clear path will emerge quickly,” DD DG Supriya Sahu said without elaborating much.
However, a senior distribution executive from a leading TV network said, on the condition of anonymity, that the reserve price hike was too steep. “The reserve price of Rs 8 crore is too high even for a Freedish because big broadcasters don’t pay carriage to pay DTH platforms while smaller broadcasters pay anywhere between Rs 3–4 crore,” the executive stated.