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News channels seek time to pay Prasar Bharati carriage fee

They cite rising costs and falling advertisement revenues

Amidst the ongoing lockdown, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), an association of 77 news channels in India, has sought delayed payment of the carriage fee for slots on the DD Free Dish from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

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The DD Free Dish reaches out to 30 million households, who get 80 channels without paying any monthly subscription fee to cable TV providers. DD Free Dish has slots for 80 channels, out of which 26 slots are reserved for Doordarshan-run channels and the remaining 54 slots are open for bidding by private channels.

 

‘Lower than 50%’

In a recent letter, NBA President Rajat Sharma wrote to the Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar that against the backdrop of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and lockdown, news broadcasters were facing a financial crisis as operation costs have shot up while advertising release orders are being cancelled. “Advertising inventory bookings are lower than 50% even for the top-rated news channels — advertising is a single source of earning for news broadcasters and this will lead to a serious cash flow problem,” Mr. Sharma wrote.

The payment for slots on carriage fee was due on March 31 and the NBA sought it to be deferred until July.

According to sources, while Prasar Bharati has allowed the channels to air on the free dish from April 1 without the payment, the NBA and Prasar Bharati are working out an alternate model of payment which, sources said, would require the channels to pay an interest of 5.7% per annum. This has left the broadcasters miffed. At least one of the NBA members said that the economic situation might not improve in the coming months, making it difficult for the channels to pay the interest.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 10:27:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/news-channels-seek-time-to-pay-prasar-bharati-carriage-fee/article31302475.ece

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