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Doordarshan eases norms for content houses to bid in slot auction

NEW DELHI: Unable to go ahead with the sale of its primetime slots after several production houses failed to meet the eligibility criteria, Doordarshan has relaxed some norms, making it easier for applicants to participate in the bids.

As part of the change in the slot sale policy, pubcaster Prasar Bharati has allowed film production companies to participate in the auction of the primetime slots. Earlier, only television content producers could bid for the slots. The new move is intended to broaden the number of applicants.

DDThe restriction on regional-language programming houses has been done away with. So, it is not only production houses with experience in Hindi entertainment programming who are eligible to bid, but content houses engaged in other languages can also take primetime slots on Doordarshan.

The pubcaster has also revised the revenue criteria of production houses. The company has to post annual revenue of at least Rs 3 crore (earlier Rs 5 crore) in each of the past three fiscals. In order to be eligible, the company also should have produced at least 200 hours (earlier 300 hours) of entertainment programming in the previous three calendar years.

Relaxing the norms, Prasar Bharati has decided to allow production houses with outstanding dues to Doordarshan to participate in the slot auction.

However, to be considered non-defaulters, they will have to pay the principal amount upfront and give an undertaking that they would pay the interest amount as well, before submitting their bids for the slots.

Prasar Bharati has also issued a proforma which production houses would have to fill up and submit, making them agree to be bound by a one-time out of court arbitration settlement scheme.

The pubcaster would also make the applicant production houses undertake to pay the outstanding payment found due after reconciliation.

Earlier, with applications of some private producers not meeting the eligibility criteria, Doordarshan had cancelled the auction.

Production houses including Balaji Telefilms, Contiloe, Cinevistaas, Keylight Productions, Optymistix, Rash Productions and Shakuntalam Telefilms had submitted applications to bid for primetime slots on Doordarshan.

Jawhar Sircar 2Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar had told that the auction of programming slots would usher in an era of transparency in Doordarshan.

“If we get through this, it will be a major victory for transparency. There is a small section in Doordarshan that is against any sort of transparency, but I am confident that we will be able to complete the process. This is the first time we are going for open bidding,” he had said.

After scrutinising the applications, DD found that some of the applicants did not meet eligibility criteria.

The pubcaster was to put out the list of qualified bidders on 13 July and the auction was to take place on 18 and 19 July.

DD had planned to fill up its primetime slots by October with content from the private producers based on its new slot-sale policy. The pubcaster currently sources content from producers under the self-finance commissioning (SFC) scheme.

After beginning afresh the process of auctioning prime time slots to private producers, Doordarshan is planning to roll out new programming on 1 November.

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