The Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry has decided to review state-broadcaster Doordarshan’s new content acquisition scheme, under which prime-time programming slots (on DD National) were auctioned to private production houses in December, three people familiar with the development said.

In the process, the ministry has delayed the release of new prime-time content prepared by Saaibaba Telefilms and the Ekta Kapoor-promoted Balaji Telefilms. Both production houses have been preparing programming, ranging from music reality shows to youth-oriented shows and family dramas. Some were supposed to go on air in late July. The decision followed a meeting between ministry officials and representatives from Doordarshan and private production houses.

Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio, had put prime-time slots on auction in May 2016, in a bid to introduce fresh content on Doordarshan. Currently, the broadcaster purchases programmes from producers under self-finance commissioning (SFC) scheme and generates advertising revenues.

After two failed auctions last year, the public broadcaster successfully completed one in December and awarded three slots each to Balaji Telefilms Ltd and Saaibaba Telefilms. 

“The initial plan was to launch on this Saturday. But it seems that authorities are still evaluating the plan,” asserts an executive at one of the two production houses.

The auction was a part of Prasar Bharati’s efforts to revamp the entire Doordarshan network. The broadcaster was hoping to generate Rs100 crore in 2017-18 from the auction—Rs20 crore as the collective bidding price of the slots sold in the auction and Rs80 crore in advertising revenue from new programming.

In 2016-17, Doordarshan recorded a net revenue of Rs827.51 crore, up from Rs755 crore in 2015-16.-  Live Mint