News Broadcasters: News Broadcasters Boycott DD Free Dish Electronic Auction

TV news broadcasters decided to boycott the current DD Free Dish e-auction, citing a new methodology Prasar Bharati which, in their opinion, are distorted in relation to news and current affairs channels.

Television news agencies News broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) Ms. Federation of News Broadcasters (NBF) drafted a joint letter signed by their respective presidents, Information and broadcasting (I&B) Minister Anurag Thakur seeking his intervention. Together they represent all the national and regional news broadcasters in the country. Prasar Bharati operates DD Free Dish, a free direct-to-home (DTH) platform that reaches approximately 40-50 million homes.

The news broadcasters raised Prasar Bharati on three key issues. First, they noted that the number of slots dedicated to the news genre on DD Free Dish has dropped from 14 in 2022 to just six this year. Second, they expressed concern that the changed auction methodology for DD Free Dish slots would allow entertainment broadcasters to bid on slots previously reserved for news channels.

Finally, they highlighted the lack of a scientific basis for determining the actual reach of DD Free Dish, which is an unencrypted platform.

All of these factors, according to news broadcasters, will drive up the price of DD Free Dish slots and make them unacceptable to news channels. “We believe this will likely make the cost of bidding for DD Free Dish slots prohibitive for us and against our common interests,” the March 14 letter reads.

NBF and NBDA requested an urgent meeting with Thakur and Prasar Bharati officials. Both bodies have also made it clear that they will not participate in the e-auction until their complaints are resolved.

Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati has already taken an estimated £191 crore from the auction of 11 slots that were reserved for Hindi entertainment and film channels, sources involved in the bidding process said on condition of anonymity.