Viacom18, Zee Entertainment and Sony Pictures Networks India are all set to make a comeback on DD Freedish as the three top broadcasters will bid for a slot in today’s auctions for their erstwhile free-to-air turned pay channels Colors Rishtey, Zee Anmol and Sony Pal, respectively.
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Sources close to the development confirmed the news to BestMediaInfo.com. However, there is no clarity over Star India’s participation in today's auctions for its channel Star Utsav. “Either Star India will decide at the last moment about participating in today’s auctions or they will wait for the next auction but eventually they will come back on the FTA platform,” the source said.
At the beginning of the nationwide lockdown, all four channels had decided to go free for next two months.
It may be recalled that these four channels had decided to pull the plug from DD Freedish from March 1, 2019 as TRAI’s new tariff order implemented on March 31 did not allow inclusion of FTA channels in the pay channel bouquet. The channels were priced between 10 paisa to Re 1 and made a part of the bouquets formed by the broadcasters.
With this move, all four channels witnessed a huge drop in viewership – up to 95% in the rural market.
However, NTO 2.0, which is on hold due to the Covid crisis and court case between broadcasters and TRAI, is likely to give wings to FTA channels as it allows 200 FTA channels for the base pack of Rs 130.
TRAI in its amendment to the New Tariff Order mandated DPOs to carry 200 SD (plus mandatory channels) television channels in a basic NCF (network capacity fee) of Rs 130 per month.
“As the pay channels’ subscriptions have taken a significant hit due to the Covid crisis and FTA channels such as Dangal and Big Magic continue to perform well, the latest move by Colors Rishtey, Zee Anmol and Sony Pal will give them the desired push in terms of viewership and advertising revenue,” said an industry expert.
A DD Freedish slot costs Rs 8-15 crore annually on an average. Many smaller broadcasters have decided to pull out from DD Freedish showing inability to bear such high cost to be on the free platform as advertising revenues have come down by 80-90% due to Covid-19.
Overregulation of the broadcast industry by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has been unsettling the broadcast business since the implementation of new tariff order on March 31, 2019.
Coupled with the economic slowdown and Covid-19 impact, many broadcasters are either forced to close channels, the latest being Delhi Aaj Tak, AXN and AXN HD, or they are changing their strategies in order to survive.