COVID-19: A syndicate of Free-to-Air Broadcasters demand to waive the fee

Mumbai: A syndicate of Free-to-Air broadcasters having their channels placed on Prasar Bharti’s
esteemed DTH Platform, DD Free Dish, extended a unanimous humble request for government’s
support in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
COVID-19 pandemic has resentfully impacted the Indian economy. There are no sectors of the
economy left untouched from the impact of the nationwide lockdown, including media and
entertainment. Commercial advertisements being the sole revenue stream for Free-to-Air channels
are struggling to deal with a steep de-growth, and the biggest impact is on advertising revenues that
are likely to see a 70-80% pullback.
Amidst national crisis, when the whole nation is under lockdown and people are staying indoors, the
only source of engagement is a television and in this the role of free-to-air TV, particularly for the
poorer sections of our society, is immense and thus it’s commercial viability & sustainability must be
taken into consideration.
At the end of March, each FTA member, in their capacity reached out to DD Free Dish with a certain
request of waving carriage fees for a quarter (April, May and June) owed by them in the wake of
COVID-19 pandemic. In response of which, they received a letter dated April 7, 2020, offering a
deferred payment schedule instead of the waiver of 3 months’ outstanding payments sought for,
and that too with a provision for furnishing a bank guarantee (valid up to 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.
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.
Considering the unprecedented coronavirus situation and with business coming down to 10-15% of
the normal monthly business, their request requires a lot more sympathetic consideration. They are
also paying all salaries on time to ensure the livelihood of hundreds of people, as responsible
corporate citizens of this nation, upon the request of our Hon’ble Prime Minister. If this continues
like this, they will not be in a position to meet the HR expenses leading to mass layoffs.
Therefore they are seeking some relief from the Government to waiver of 100% Carriage Fees due to
Prasar Bharati for the 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.
The request was based post understanding the time that the entire industry would need for
normalcy to return. They all would appreciate the government’s intervention in this matter so that
the broadcasting sector as whole tides over the current situation.
A syndicate of Free-to-Air Broadcasters, comprising of the following, submitted the request in “SD
mode” due to the current pandemic:
 Pradeep Guha,  Managing Director, 9X Media Pvt. Ltd., 9XM & 9X Jalwa
 Aditya Pittie, Managing Director, IN 10 Media Pvt. Ltd., Showbox & Filamchi

 Ajit A. Joshi, Director, SwamiFilm Entertainment Pvt. Ltd & SuperHit Broadcasting Pvt. Ltd.,
Movie Plus & Satya
 Natasha Fernandes, Director, B4U Broadband (India) Pvt. Ltd., B4U Music & B4U Movies
 Santosh Garg, Authorised Signatory, Ashirwad Telenetwork Pvt. Ltd., B4U Kadak & B4U
 Manish Shah, Director, Goldmines Telefilms Pvt. Ltd., Blue
 Sandeep Gupta, Shemaroo Entertainment Ltd., Shemaroo Marathibana & Fun TV
 Sahib Chopra, Director, Shopping Bazaar Pvt. Ltd., Manoranjan TV, Manoranjan Movies &
Manoranjan Grand
 Hitesh Sabharwal, CEO, Cinema 24*7 Pvt. Ltd., Cinema TV
 Dr Darshan Singh & Vishvajit Sharma, Chairman & MD, Teleone Consumers Product Pvt.
Ltd., Maha Movie, Maha Punjabi, Lord Buddha TV
 Ranvir Singh, Director, Skystar Entertainment Pvt. Ltd, ABZY Cool, ABZY Movies, ABZY
 Rakesh Gupta, Sadhna Media Group, Sadhna TV, Ishwar TV, Sadhna News Channel
 B.P. Aggarwal, Managing Director, Surya Sagar Communication Pvt. Ltd., Surya Cinema &
Surya Bhojpuri
 Kailasnath Adhikari, Promoter, Sri Adhikari Brothers- TV Vision Ltd., Mastiii & Dabangg

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