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Delhi HC issues notice to Prasar Bharati as producers challenge slot sale policy

MUMBAI: The Delhi High Court has issued notice to Prasar Bharati as production houses have challenged the public broadcaster’s slot sale policy.

The High Court has given the pubcaster two weeks to respond to the notice. The producers have alleged that the slot sale is discriminatory against small content companies.

According to The Times of India, the producers had petitioned the court arguing that the pilot episode or production be evaluated for its worthiness before the scheme was scrapped and a new one brought in.

The producers were producing programmes for DD under the previous self-finance commissioning (SFC) scheme.

The producers contended that the pubcaster should not have changed policy without appraising their proposals. They also argued that the new scheme was loaded in favour of large production companies.

The TOI report stated that the HC had asked Prasar Bharati to communicate to the producers the reasons for refusing to appraise their products and assure that the decision was not arbitrary.

Earlier, Prasar Bharati had decided to do away with the strategy of acquiring programmes through commissioning/SFC route as it had resulted in a dip in viewership of DD National and consequently decreasing revenue.

Accordingly, the pubcaster decided to sell time slot/time bands on DD National as a strategy to source high-quality content.

Under the new policy, production houses that have produced at least 300 hours of Hindi general entertainment programming in the last two years and have a minimum turnover of Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million) per annum with regard to television and film production in the last three financial years are eligible to apply.

Successful bidders would produce fresh general entertainment programmes in various genres for Doordarshan in line with the programming/broadcasting codes of Prasar Bharati.