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News channels boycott DD Freedish e-auction over 'flawed’ methodology

The news broadcasters wrote a letter to I&B minister Anurag Thakur on Tuesday, which was jointly sighed by NBDA president Avinash Pandey and NBDF president Arnab Goswami, stating their decision to stay away from the auction

News broadcasters have decided to skip the ongoing e-auction of DD Freedish MPEG-2 slots accusing the revised process issued by Prasar Bharti to be flawed, NewsDrum reported.

According to highly placed industry sources, the representatives of industry bodies for news television – News Broadcasters and Digital Association (NBDA) led by Avinash Pandey of ABP Network and News Broadcasters and Digital Federation (NBDF) led by Arnab Goswami – are set to meet Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur on Wednesday.

"News broadcasters are united over any issue for the first time. It is a matter of survival for the already struggling genre. The news channels will seek the minister's intervention to correct the methodology," a source said.

The news broadcasters wrote a letter to the minister on Tuesday, which was jointly sighed by Pandey and Goswami, stating their decision to stay away from the auction.

“Unfortunately, till we can resolve this matter, we are constrained not to be able to participate as of now in the ongoing bidding for the news category,” the letter said.

The letter said, “This year, the auction procedure is skewed against all news and current affairs channels. Not only are fewer slots available, but because of the way the auction has been structured, we are placed in a relative disadvantage vis a vis other genre. We would also like to highlight the absence of a scientific basis to calculate the number of viewers under DDFD. Therefore, we believe that this is likely to make the cost of bidding for slots on Freedish prohibitive for us and against our common interest.”

Talking about the issues with the new methodology, a news broadcaster said, “We have been writing to Prasar Bharati on the industry and individual levels about the anomalies in the revised methodology. The methodology inflates the base price to Rs 16 crore for all the buckets. But there is no response from the pubcaster. It is impossible to take part in such a situation.”

From the e-auction that kicked off Monday, the top four broadcasters – Disney Star, Zee Entertainment, Sony TV and Viacom18 – had already decided not to bid for slots for their general entertainment channels owing to the implementation of the new tariff order (NTO 3.0).

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