Three broadcasters challenge PB’s new slot e-auction policy for DD Free Dish in Delhi HC

MUMBAI: Broadcasters 9X Media, B4U Broadband and TV Vision have challenged the Prasar Bharati’s new policy guidelines for free direct to home (DTH) platform DD Free Dish in the Delhi High Court.

In their petition, the broadcasters have contended that the reserve price set by the public broadcaster in the new policy guideline is too high and prohibitive for small and niche broadcasters.

They have also contended that by classifying channels of different genres into a single bucket the pubcaster has treated un-equals as equals. The Hindi music channels have been clubbed together with sports channels besides Bhojpuri GEC and movie channels with a reserve price of Rs 10 crore.

In the previous regime, the slots were auctioned under two categories, news and non-news. The reserve price for news channels was Rs 6.5 crore while the same for non-news channels was Rs 8 crore.

The matter was listed for hearing on 31st January. It came up for hearing today and has been adjourned till 4th February.

Prasar Bharati had notified the new guidelines for the allocation of DD Free Dish slots on 15th January. The DTH platform has an estimated 30 million customers.

The first e-auction under the new policy guidelines will be held on 11th February. As many as 54 slots will be up for grabs after discounting the 26 slots reserved for DD/Lok Sabha/Rajya Sabha channels. The DTH platform has 80 slots on its platform.

The guidelines have mandated differential pricing for different genres. TV channels will be allowed to bid only in e-auctions specific to the genre (language) they belong to.

Five buckets have been created for e-auction of MPEG2 slots. With a reserve price of Rs 15 crore, Bucket A+ has been kept for Hindi GECs and Teleshopping channels while Bucket A has been dedicated for Hindi movie channels with a reserve price of Rs 12 crore.

All News & Current Affairs (Hindi), All News & Current Affairs (English) Channels and News& Current Affairs (Punjabi) Channels are under the Bucket C which has a reserve price of Rs 7 crore. The Bucket D with a reserve price of Rs 6 crore comprises of all other remaining genres/language channels.