DD Free Dish Latest Auction: Who wins, Who loses?

01 Mar,2021


By Indrani Sen


DD Free Dish has come a long way since its launch in 2005. Last year during the pandemic while Prasar Bharati had an auction of 53 MPG2 slots in March, 2020, followed by various auctions for limited number of channels for limited periods, allowing the Broadcasters to experiment with the pros and cons of having more than one channel from their stable on DD Free Dish.

This year finallym the 52nd DD Free Dish Auction was announced inviting applications from eligible channels across six buckets of TV channels for the period of one year beginning from April 1, 2021. Prasar Bharati announced the reserve price for MPEG-2 slots according to the below bucket/categories:

Bucket A+(All Hindi GEC TV channels) – 15 Crore

Bucket A(All Hindi Movie TV channels) – 12 Crore

Bucket B(All Hindi Music channels, Hindi Sports channels, Bhojpuri GEC channels, Bhojpuri Movie channels and Hindi Teleshopping channels – 10 Crore

Bucket CNews & Current affairs (Hindi / English / Punjabi) channels – 7 Crore

Bucket D– All other remaining Genres/ Regional channels and Regional Teleshopping channels – 6 Crore

Bucket R1– Devotional / Spiritual / Aayush channels – 3 Crore

Any channel participating in the auction had to bid above the reserve price in that particular category.


During the last week, there has been a lot of excitement in the TV industry over the 52nd DD Free Dish Auction. According to industry sources, there was keen competition among Broadcasters for getting the slots across all buckets. Particularly in the News & Current Affairs category, the news channels have ended up investing huge amounts to secure slots on the distribution platform of Prasar Bharati. The final round of auction took place on last Saturday and the final list has been released on March 1, 2021. The results declared shows that 10 players have won the slots in A+ category while 15 players have won the slots in A category as shown below. The results also shows clearly that DD Free Dish has become an essential component of the marketing strategy of all the major Broadcasters.

  Category A + Hindi GEC   Category A Hindi Movies  
1 ABZY Cool 1 Wah Movies* 9 Maha Movies
2 Azaad 2 ABZY Movies 10 Manoranjan TV
3 Big Magic 3 B4U Kadak 11 Movie Plus
4 Color Rishtey 4 B4U Movies 12 Rishtey Cineplex
5 Dangaal 5 BDM 13 Sony Wah
6 Shemaroo 6 Bflix Movies 14 Star Utsav Movies
7 Sony Pal 7 Dhinchaak 15 Zee Anmol Cinema
8 Star Utsav 8 Enterr10 Movies    
9 The Q India * Expected to be relaunched as Dhinchaak 2
10 Zee Anmol        

Bucket B earlier used to be reserved for only Hindi Music, Sports, Teleshopping, etc. The inclusion of Bhojpuri channels in that bucket reflects growing viewership of Bhojpuri language beyond its linguistic territory. Of the 13 TV channels winning slots in this category, 7 are Bhojpuri channels. In bucket C, 12 News Channels have fought the auction and both buckets D and R1, have 5 applicants each. As per the information available the news channels winning slots in the auction are Aaj Tak, Aaj Tak Tej, ABP News, India TV, NDTV India, News18 India, News Nation, Republic TV Bharat, TV9 Bharatvarsh, Zee Hindustan and Zee News. The industry grapevine is saying that the news channels have ended up investing proportionately major chunk of their expected annual revenue in the DD Free Dish auction and couple of them may back out subsequently.


As of now, Prasar Bharati has got INR 730 + crores from the sale of 57 MPG 2 slots on the DD Free Dish from the 52nd DD Free Dish Auction which shows a 23% increase over the last auction of INR 594.25 crore collected from the sales of 53 MPG2 slots in March, 2020. The Bucket A of Hindi Movies Collectively has got the highest collection at Rs 194.85 crore, but a Hindi news channel has come out as the single highest bidder at Rs 22.05 crore.


The total number of channels participating in the auction has crossed the number of 53 slots which were available for the auction. The senior officials of Prasar Bharati have been huddled together in meetings over last Friday and Saturday trying to decide which Doordarshan channels they should delete from the DD Free Dish offerings to allow all the private channels to come on board.


It is not really fair for a Public Broadcaster to take such a step as the axe is bound to fall on some smaller Doordarshan Channels catering to small states. Prasar Bharati is yet to declare which Doordarshan channels have been taken out from DD Free Dish to accommodate the private channels. Last year, I wrote in this column about the silent coup by Prasar Bharati. I am an ardent supporter of the DD Free Dish strategy, however, Prasar Bharati should not promote this strategy at the cost of depriving smaller states from the viewing Doordarshan programmes in their own language on the DD Free Dish.


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