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After bagging three new general entertainment channels earlier this month, Doordarshan is all set for the 35th e-auction for its DTH platform Free Dish next week, thus marking the first time when a second e-auction is being held within the same month.
The e-auction confined to only non-news and current affairs channels is set for 25 May 2017 will have a reserve price of Rs 80 million as in the e-auction held on 9 May when Sony Wah, Zee Anmol Cinema, and 9X Jalwa successfully bid to come on the platform. Each bid came at the reserve price, Rs 80 million.
Parliament was informed earlier last month that Doordarshan’s DTH platform was soon getting approval to increase this capacity to 250 channels over the next two years.
But DD got a jolt last month when its 33rd e-auction slated for 11 April could not be held. Although there was no official confirmation, indiantelevision.com learnt that the Free Dish auction could not be held because there were no applicants.
After final trials of MPEG4 and the success of the 32nd auction in February, the reserve price for the next auction has been raised to Rs 80 million from Rs 48 million per slot.
Until last year, the reserve price was Rs 43 million but one channel fetched the bid of Rs 70 million in the auction held on 14 February 2017.
Earlier last year, the price for one channel went up to Rs 53 million and gave DD the confidence to raise the price which had been Rs 37 million till 2015 but was raised to Rs 43 million for the 25th e-auction in January 2016.
The e-Auction will be conducted by M/s. C1 India Pvt. Ltd., Noida which also conducted the FM Radio Phase III auctions on behalf of Prasar Bharati.   

The participation amount (EMD) in the e-Auction is Rs.28 million – up from Rs 15 million - which has to be deposited in advance before or by 12 noon on the date of auction along with processing fee of Rs.25,000 (non-refundable, up from Rs 10,000) in favour of PB (BCI) Doordarshan Commercial Service, New Delhi.
Incremental amount for the auction will be Rs One Million and the time for every slot e-auction will be of fifteen minutes duration. This may be extended by five minutes if a bid is received before the closing time.
Unsuccessful bidders will get back the participation amount of Rs 28 million within three weeks of the results.
However, Doordarshan has changed its payment regimen and made it stricter.
The first installment of 25 per cent of the bid price with the applicable service tax will have to be paid within one month from date of placement of channel.
The second installment of 25 per cent of the total bid price along with the applicable service tax will have to be paid within four months of placement of channel.
The third installment of remaining amount after adjusting the participation fee and previous installments but adding the applicable service tax will be deposited within seven months of placement of channel.
If any of the installments is not paid in time, a penal interest of 14.5 per cent per annum will be levied.
If there is failure in depositing an installment for two months, the deposited participation amount along with any installment paid will be forfeited and the channel discontinued after a 21-day discontinuation notice.
Doordarshan had in October last year formally announced that FreeDish was capable of carrying 104 television channels and 24 channels would be added to the existing 80 channels after the launch of MPEG4 technology.
In line with the ‘Digital India’ and ‘Make in India’, DD has implemented Indian CAS (iCAS) on DD FreeDish Platform. iCAS (which is an initiative of the central government) was introduced in the auction held last month. The introduction of iCAS will provide enhanced viewing experience.
DD officials said the existing viewers will continue to get 80 SDTV channels and 32 radio channels, but will have to obtain iCAS-enabled authorized set-top boxes for accessing all new channels.
Although Free Dish will remain free-to-air with no monthly or periodic fee, the viewers will be required to register with DD FreeDish on getting the new STB from Doordarshan authorized STB dealers.
 DD officials said implementation of iCAS and authorisation of STB original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) by Doordarshan will give a major thrust to ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’. At present, a majority of STBs are imported. However, the introduction of iCAS will help in standardization of STBs and encourage quality STB manufacturing in India.
With analogue having been switched off, Parliament had been told that many stakeholders feel that FreeDish is the best option in Phase IV which covers rural India.
FreeDish was launched with a modest bouquet of 33 channels in December 2004, and now carries eighty TV channels and 32 radio channels. This includes 22 Doordarshan channels and two parliamentary channels, seven general entertainment channels, 18 movie channels, 13 news channels, seven music channels, three religious channels and eight channels of other genres. The All-India Radio stations also piggy-back on the platform.

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