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 per cent 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.
Waving carriage fees
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 per cent 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 per cent 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 Bhojpuri
• 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 Dhakad
• 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