Doordarshan will e-auction four vacant satellite slots, on Saturday, for its free direct to home (DTH) service, DD Direct plus. And several private broadcasters are expected to participate in the bidding process.
Since the national broadcaster adopted the e-auction system in 2011, the minimum reserve price of the satellite slot has gone up from Rs 1.50 crore to Rs 3.11 crore.
The e-auction would be conducted by Mumbai- based online trading firm ‘NCDEX Spot’.
Doordarshan DTH satellite slots are much sought after by private TV channels as it paves the way for obtaining a pan India viewership. DD Direct has about 9 million subscribers and its free-to-air service covers 81 per cent of the country’s geographical area via 1415 transmitters.
“Till November 2010, a committee of Doordarshan used to allot satellite slots for a fee of Rs 80 lakh. But Doordarshan adopted the e-auction system for allotting satellite slots after private broadcasters appealed to Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) stating that some private channels were discontinued from the Doordarshan’s DTH service without any reason. e-auction system ensures that the channels are shown as part of DD DTH platform for one year after they have been selected via the bidding process,” said a DD official.
Meanwhile, it is the small broadcasting companies beaming social content, which would bear the brunt of the high minimum reserve price.
“Why should broadcasting companies showing programmes related to education, health, agriculture or tourism pay the same rates as channels that show blockbuster movies, cricket or general entertainment,” said Ravi Gupta, CEO of a leading multi-system operator in Delhi.
According to Pushpinder Singh, the head of a channel telecasting health programmes, “the government should give incentives to channels which are showing content that is beneficial to society. The revenue earned by such channels is hardly comparable to those which show general entertainment.”
Since July last, Doordarshan has conducted six e-auctions and given out 30 satellite slots. The minimum reserve price for a satellite slot at the maiden e-auction was Rs 1.5 crore.
However, it went up to Rs 2.17 crore in the second auction held in August 2011 and this later jumped to Rs Rs 3.21 crore in November’s e- auction.
Ironically, none of the country’s private broadcasters participated in the e-auction of the five vacant satellite slots conducted in
December 2011, when the minimum reserve price was set at Rs 3.48 crore.