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Don’t subsidise private channels, review free dish policy: I&B ministry to Prasar Bharati

NEW DELHI: A week after it refused to waive the public broadcaster’s spectrum charges of over Rs 1,200 cr, the I&B ministry has now sent yet another reminder to Prasar Bharati to review the its DD Free Dish and revenue sharing policies, which it has said, needs to be made “transparent and economically viable,” and more importantly, has asked the latter “to not subsidise private channels that do not need concessions.”

Ministry officials said, starting from August last year several reminders have been sent to Prasar Bharati to review its policy on DD Free Dish— the free-to-air DTH (direct-to-home) platform— which has 22 million subscribers, according to estimates from television viewership measurement agency Broadcast Audience Research Council of India. A ministry official said the broadcaster has not replied to any of its six reminders sent in the last four months. The latest one was sent on Tuesday, official said.
Don’t subsidise private channels, review free dish policy: I&B ministry to Prasar Bharati

Union I&B minister Smriti Zubin Irani recently said that Doordarshan should leverage the reach created by DD Free Dish to create quality content and improve the revenue generation through advertisement and ease the burden on the taxpayers.

In a letter on March 26 to Prasar Bharati CEO, the ministry said: “It has been observed that DD Free Dish was subsidising private channels/ serial producers contrary to cabinet approval. DD Free Dish offered channels its service for as low as Rs 6-8 cr which does not cover the cost per channel that works out to approximately Rs 350 cr.”

“Channels after paying Rs 6-8 cr are said to earn up to Rs 700 cr. The channels including Sony Mix, Star Bharat, Zee Anmol cinema should not qualify for subsidy,” the letter said. Currently, there are approximately 72 TV channels on Doordarshan’s DTH platform Free Dish.

Currently there are approximately 72 TV channels on Doordarshan’s DTH platform Free Dish, including private general entertainment channels like Zee Anmol, Star Utsav, Sony Pal, Rishtey, and news channels like Aaj Tak.

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