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In an attempt to expand its base within the rural pockets of the country, especially in southern and eastern India, public broadcaster Doordarshan will soon start reserving slots for non-Hindi, private regional channels on the DD Free Dish — its direct-to-home (DTH) platform.
According to Prasar Bharati sources, a policy is being framed to facilitate the move that will be ready in the next few weeks. “The move will help us reach the rural population in different parts of the country, especially in the eastern and southern parts of the country where people usually prefer private, regional channels,” an official said. The decision follows successful e-auctions of slots on its direct-to-home (DTH) platform, which has turned out to be a good source of revenue for the cash-strapped DD.
In its 24th e-auction on November 9, DD earned Rs31.2 crore for selling five slots on the DD Free Dish. The takers included Hindi news channel Aaj Tak and Hindi entertainment channel Big Magic, both of which are pay channels.
DD officials say, this has been the first time that the bid had gone above Rs6 crore per channel. In the previous e-auctions, the average bid amount was around Rs4 crore. DD officials said the new rural rating mechanism adopted by Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which is a fairly new rating system for TV, has led several popular private channels to increasingly participate the e-auction process of DD Free Dish slots, in an effort to reach in rural areas, mostly accessed by DD so far.
So, reserving certain slots for private, regional channels on its DTH platform will be a win-win situation for DD, as DD would be able to expand itself in the eastern and southern parts of the country, riding on the popularity of other popular regional channels commonly watched by the masses in those regions.