Prasar Bharati’s DTH income jumped 42% to Rs 309.36 cr in FY17

MUMBAI: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati’s income from the direct to home (DTH) segment for the financial year ended 31 March 2017 jumped to Rs 309.36 crore compared to Rs 218.26 crore in the year-ago period.

The DTH income includes a Service Tax component of Rs 44.98 crore. In the previous, the service tax component was Rs 29.71 crore.

The DTH income formed a significant part of the pubcasters other income which also includes licence fees from towers and staff quarters. The other income for the fiscal under review stood at Rs 388.8 crore compared to Rs 310.1 crore.

As per Prasar Bharati’s annual accounts, the income from sales and services jumped to Rs 1129 crore compared to Rs 992.6 crore. Grants from the central government stood at Rs 3105.6 crore as against Rs 12,243 crore. Expenditure rose to Rs 4837.1 crore from Rs 4319 crore.

The DTH income pertains to the revenue that the pubcaster earns from the sale of slots on its free to air (FTA) DTH platform DD Free Dish. The slot auctions have been put on hold since August 2017 as the pubcaster is in the process of coming out with a new policy for utilising the platform.

Some broadcasters whose annual contracts had expired and wanted to continue on the platform had moved Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) against the pubcaster’s decision not to auction the slot even as other channels in the same category were being carried on the platform.

The tribunal had directed Prasar Bharati to carry channels, whose contract has expired or is about to expire, on pro-rata basis till such time it comes up with a new policy. The pubcaster is still working on the policy for Free Dish.

Recently, the Information & Broadcasting (I&B) minister Smriti Irani has stated that DD Free Dish has been milked by private broadcasters to increase their ad revenue while leaving the pubcaster poorer. She has urged DD to utilise the reach of DD Free Dish to improve ad revenue by offering quality content.

However, Prasar Bharati’s FY18 revenue is bound to take a hit due to non-auctioning of slots on Free Dish. Prasar Bharati has downgraded its FY18 revenue by Rs 100 crore due to non-auctioning of slots on Free Dish and non-implementation of slot sale policy.

Prasar Bharati had set a target of Rs 1488 crore revenue for the ongoing fiscal, however, that target has been revised to Rs 1388 crore.

DD Free Dish was launched in December 2004 with a bouquet of 33 TV channels. The capacity of DTH platform was subsequently augmented to 59 TV channels. DTH signals can be received anywhere in the country (except Andaman & Nicobar Islands) with the help of small sized dish receive units. For A&N Islands, the DTH service in C-band with a bouquet of 10 channels was started with effect from September 2009.

The upgradation of DD Free Dish from 59 to 104 channels completed in December 2014. Presently, Free Dish has a capacity of 80 TV channels while 72 channels are available on the platform. After implementation of Indian Conditional Access System (iCAS), the number of channels will be increased to 104 TV channels.

Installation and testing for the implementation of iCAS including subscriber management system, firmware & middleware in DD Free Dish DTH service project has been completed in March 2017.

Doordarshan has shortlisted Indian STB OEMs for sale of iCAS integrated DD Free Dish DTH STBs in the Indian market. iCAS integrated SDTV STBs for reception of DD Free Dish DTH Service is expected to be rolled out soon. Further upgradation of DD’s DTH platform up to 250 TV channels is under implementation and tenders have been invited for turnkey solution.

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