The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB)has decided to review the channel slot auction process of Doordarshan’s free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) platform DD Free Dish.

The MIB has asked the broadcaster to suspend e-auctioning of slots, which were ostensibly picked up by private broadcasters on DD Free Dish until further notice.

The last e-auction took place in July, in which DD-Free Dish had earned Rs 85.10 crore and has awarded slots to 11 private broadcasters. Another auction scheduled for August was cancelled by the broadcaster, citing administrative reasons.

It is estimated that DD Free Dish has increased its reach to around 25 million households in a run-up that is faster than the growth of the entire DTH industry in the past few years.

As reported by The Tribune in July last, the national broadcaster was losing great amount of revenue to a large number of private channels which had piggy-backed it on its Free Dish which was launched to take its channels to the masses through the Direct-to-Home (DTH) mode.

Reports stated that  private broadcasters, while paying an average of about Rs 6-8 crore per annum to DD-Free Dish were earning Rs 500-700 crore per channel in advertising revenue due to the high reach obtained via DD-Direct while relegating DD channels to the category of unwatched channels. This resulted in DD losing hundreds of crores in its own potential advertising revenue.

A review of ratings of channels on DD-Free Dish indicated that the ratings of Doordarshan were not even 10 percent of the ratings of the private broadcasters. The top rated 15 channels on DD-Free Dish platform had ratings which ranged from 50-80 and almost all of them were private TV channels.

The DD channels languished at ratings of zero to three meaning that the DD channels were going unwatched, a reason for them to lose out on advertising revenue, as the advertisements are dependent on viewership ratings.

DD-Free Dish used to hold e-auction once every couple of months to award vacant channel slots on DD Free Dish to private broadcasters. At present, the platform carries 80 TV channels, includingStar Utsav, Sony Pal, Zee Anmol, Rishtey and news channels like AajTak, ABP News, Zee News, News 24 etc.

So far, the platform has two vacant slots but the number will increase to 10 by the end of this month if no decision is taken by the ministry. – Tribune India