All the news channels are now game for the DD Freedish e-auction after five broadcasters secured a slot each, despite telling the I&B minister that they would sit out in protest against the revised methodology designed to inflate the bid amount.
Five news channels – Republic Bharat (Rs 16.55 crore), TV9 Bharatvarsh (Rs 14.55 crore), Zee News (Rs 15.5 crore), NDTV India (Rs 16.55 crore) and News18 India (Rs 19.85 crore) – were the successful winners on Thursday.
The first round of auctions for Bucket C ended with ABP News winning the sixth slot for Rs 17.1 crore on Friday.
All other news channels competing for a DD Freedish slot will be eligible to bid when the second round of e-auctions begins after the completion of the first round of Bucket D reserved for all other genres including spiritual channels.
Unlike previous e-auctions, there will be no second round for every bucket. In fact, the second round will begin with Bucket A+ which will have six slots with a base price of Rs 16 crore onwards and all the channels falling under every bucket can participate in the bidding process.
The auctions for the next six slots will be called the third round in which all the genres except Bucket A+ can participate at the base price of Rs 13 crore onwards.
News channels can participate in any of the rounds at higher base prices but the next round reserved for them is actually the fifth round with a base price of Rs 8 crore onwards.
“Whoever will not panic, will wait for the fifth round and bid at the base price of Rs 8 crore onwards,” said a senior executive who has been a part of the e-auction processes.
“On the face of it, there is a bid to create an artificial shortage of slots by Prasar Bharati as their revised methodology document does not talk beyond the seventh round. But if you read the next sentence, it says that the slot that goes vacant mid-year or remains unfilled during scheduled e-auction may be filled on a pro-rata basis through e-auction process. This also means that Prasar Bharati has fears that slots may go unsold,” the executive added.
One of the lowest bidders in 2021 e-auctions, when a few news channels shelled out more than Rs 20 crore, told BestMediaInfo.com, “To my mind, there will be several rounds until the slots are filled. Let us understand that Prasar Bharati has done this to maximise its revenue and not to leave out important channels. After all, more channels will mean more content on the platform besides more revenue.”