Zee Media Case MIB Order To Create Level Playing Field Small News Broadcasters GSAT-15 Satellite Dish TV

New Delhi: The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) on Monday withdrew permission granted to Zee Media for simultaneous uplinking of 10 TV new channels in Ku Band on GSAT-15 Satellite through teleport of Dish TV, as reported by The Economic Times. MIB ordered that smaller news broadcasters, especially those in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Maharashtra, will now have a level playing field.

The order basically prevented these channels from being accessible on DD FreeDish, the free-to-air service by the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, without paying the carriage or slot fee.

The matter dates to October 2019, when the service had allowed Zee Media to uplink 10 stations – Zee Hindustan, Zee Rajasthan, Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, Zee Bihar Jharkhand, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand, Zee Salam, Zee 24 Kalak, Zee 24 Taas and Zee Odisha (presently Zee Delhi NCR Haryana) – at the same time in Ku Band on GSAT – 15 satellite from the teleport of DishTV India.

These ten channels of Zee are also on DD Free Dish which is uplinked to the C band of GSAT-15 satellite. The government now said that this is a double benefit that cannot be taken. The government asked Zee Media to stay on only one band. But Zee Media ignored the government’s point. After this, orders were issued today to remove ten channels of Zee Media from the KU band of GSAT 15.

Rival news telecasters complained to the ministry, TRAI, as well as rating agency BARC India on different occasions as this free accessibility on DD Free Dish gave Zee media an “unfair advantage”.

According to industry estimates, DD Free Dish has in excess of 40 million subscribers, which is over a quarter of the total TV households in the country.

Accessibility on DD Free Dish gives a significant lift to any channel’s span. The position of channels on the DTH service is a significant wellspring of income for the public broadcaster, which had last auctioned off the slots for around Rs 8.95 crore per channel a year for Hindi and about Rs 6.20 crore per channel for regional languages.

Zee Media, which runs a clutch of national and regional news channels, had paid for only one slot and ran Zee news authoritatively on the Free Dish platform, as per rival networks.

“The viewership share of some of Zee Media channels in their respective market was going up to 60-70% due to the channels’ availability of Free Dish. This was without paying the slot fee. Now, we all will have a level playing field and can hope for an increase in the market share,” said the head of a Madhya Pradesh-based news channel.

After various show cause notices and representations, MIB, in its order dated September 23, denied the permission, which smaller news telecasters are considering as a major win.