Authorities at Doordarshan have written to the Broadcast Audience Research Council to take action against nine channels linked to the Zee network – which have not been allotted slots on the DD Free Dish by Prasar Bharati but are available on free to air set top boxes.
Newslaundry had earlier how three news networks, since 2020, have repeatedly approached the ministry of information and broadcasting against the Zee network, claiming the latter has illegally managed to put nine of its channels – some national and others regional – on DD Free Dish without participating in auctions and paying for slots. They allege that this undermining of due process increases Zee network’s reach among millions of viewers, pushes up its TRPs, and gives it an “unfair advantage”.
In a communication dated April 1, Inderjeet Grewal, Director (Platforms) at Doordarshan, said these nine channels are being uplinked unencrypted on Ku band transponders of GSAT 15 satellite. The letter also requested the information and broadcasting ministry to take appropriate action so that channels that are not part of the DD Free Dish bouquet are not available on the FTA set top boxes.
The channels mentioned in the letter include Zee Bihar-Jharkhand, Zee MP-Chhattisgarh, Zee Punjab-Haryana-Himachal, Zee Rajasthan, Zee Salaam, Zee UP-UK, Zee 24 Taas, Zee Odisha and Zee 24 Kalak.
With auctions for DD Free Dish slots for news channels kicking off last month, dozens of networks have been in a tight contest through auctions to reach 38 million regional viewers with Doordarshan’s free direct-to-home service.
The loss to Prasar Bharati due to Zee’s moves, networks allege, goes beyond Rs 100 crore. But the ministry has allegedly ignored the complaints so far.
The earliest representation to the I&B ministry dates back to August 2020. Newslaundry has seen copies of similar representations made as recently as January this year, which lay out how the Zee network and private DTH company Dish TV put their channels on Free Dish.