NEW DELHI: The 37th online auction for vacant general entertainment channels on Doordarshan’s free-to-air DTH platform FreeDish slated for 22 August 2017 has been put off.
According to deputy director-general (DTH) A K Jha, the auction has been kept in abeyance due to administrative reasons till further order’.
Earlier this month, it had been announced that auction would be held with differential reserve prices for general entertainment channels and news channels. The reserve prices for general entertainment channels was fixed at Rs 80 million but the reserve price for news and current affairs channels was Rs 65 million.
While the current capacity of 80 TV channels is all full, DD sources told Indiantelevision.com that this will rise to 104 with the completion of MPEG4 trials which is expected over the next two months.
The sources said the auction had been put off primarily due to the MPEG4 trials.
Earlier this year, the Parliament was informed FreeDish had got approval to increase this capacity to 250 channels and DD sources had told indiantelevision.com that will happen in the third quarter of 2018.
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).
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 FreeDish 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 authorised 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 standardisation of STBs and encourage quality STB manufacturing in India.
With analogue having been switched off, the 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. All-India Radio stations also piggy-back on the platform.