FTA channels seek govt help to combat losses

27 Apr,2020

By A Correspondent

 

In view of the hardships being faced due to the lockdown, a section of FTA broadcasters have written to the Government of India, asking for immediate assistance.

 

Here’s what is their missive:

 

“This is a unanimous humble request extended by a syndicate of Free-to-Air Broadcasters having their channels placed on Prasar Bharati’s esteemed DTH Platform DD Free Dish. Due to this pandemic, all the signatories are submitting this request in “SD mode”, names of whom are mentioned at the end.

 

Sir, as we all know the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted the Indian economy. All sectors of the economy are reeling from the impact of the nationwide lockdown, including media and entertainment. Advertisement bookings have nosedived by ~80%. Commercial advertisements are the sole revenue stream for Free-to-Air channels to support all its costs of Content, Operations, Carriage, Marketing and Transmission and in the current scenario, we have been struggling to deal with a steep de-growth and the biggest impact is on advertising revenues that is likely to see a 70-80% pullback.

 

In line with Government’s vision of making best of entertainment accessible freely to all socio economical class of Indian population through the DD Free Dish platform, all the Free-to-Air channels play a very important role especially for the poorer sections of our society  and thus it’s commercial viability & sustainability must be taken into consideration.

 

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of India for inclusion of “Electronic Media”, which reaches the length and breadth of the nation as one of the “Essential Services” during the lock down period. We intend to continue reaching out to our millions of viewers on a daily basis and for which our teams are working tirelessly.

 

Sir, as early as end of March, we all in our individual capacities had reached out to DD Free Dish with a certain request of waving carriage fees for a quarter (April, May and June) owed by us to them in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In response of which we were in receipt of letter dated April 7, 2020 offering a deferred payment schedule in lieu of the waiver of 3 months’ outstanding payments sought for, and that too with a provision for furnishing a bank guarantee (valid upto 31.07.2020) of equivalent amount. Availing the said relief has been subjected to interest levy at 5.7% per annum and GST on the interest amount.

 

Sir, the aforesaid relief would not serve the purpose at this juncture, but instead put additional hardships on the Company in terms of bank guarantee charges, interest payments and GST amounts with effectively no relief on the total carriage fee payments.

 

In light of the current adverse business environment, our request requires a lot more sympathetic consideration, considering our revenues have been eroded. There are few channels which have been recently launched on 01.04.2020 and they are facing the brunt with no revenues at all.

 

As responsible corporate citizens of this nation, upon the request of our Hon’ble Prime Minister it has become our foremost duty to pay all our salaries on time which in turn will ensure that livelihood of hundreds of people. We wish to draw your attention once again to the fact that with business coming down to 10-15% of normal monthly business, we will be only in a position to disburse salaries and any more expense burden in the current & coming months will affect our salary paying capacity in such marginalised incomes.

 

We, therefore, humbly place our request in front of your kind self which is a waiver of 100% Carriage Fees due to Prasar Bharati for first quarter (April, May and June) and 50% for second quarter i.e. (July, August and September) for Channels who have secured MPEG-2 slots on Prasar Bharati’s Free Dish Platform during the recently held 44th E-auction.

 

We base our request post understanding the time that the entire industry would need for normalcy to return.

 

In view of the facts furnished above, we all would appreciate your personal intervention in this matter so that broadcasting sector as a whole tides over the current situation.”

 

 

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