MUMBAI: The ministry of information and broadcasting has reportedly asked Doordarshan to suspend until further notice e-auctioning of slots, which were picked up by private broadcasters on its free-to-air direct-to-home (DTH) platform FreeDish.

FreeDish, at present, carries 80 TV channels, including Sony Pal, Star Utsav, Zee Anmol, Rishtey and news channels like AajTak, Zee News, ABP News, News 24 etc. FreeDish has two vacant slots but the number could go up to 10 by October-end if no decision is taken by MIB, the Tribune reported.

The slots are getting vacant and private broadcasters have been unable to renew those. Prasar Bharati has reportedly been refusing renewal since August.

The e-auction had taken place in July, in which FreeDish had earned Rs 851 million as 11 private broadcasters bagged. Another auction planned for August was cancelled by the broadcaster, citing “administrative reasons” as per the notice dated 18 August, 2017. Doordarshan, for the year 2016-17, earned more than 30 per cent of its revenue from FreeDish at Rs 2641 million -- its highest-ever, Mint reported.

Private broadcasters, reports said, paying an average of around Rs 60-80 million per annum to FreeDish were getting advertising revenue in the range of Rs 5--7 billion per channel owing to the high reach obtained via DD-Direct while Doordarshan was losing millions.

FreeDish, it is estimated, increased its reach to around 25 million households which is faster than the average growth of the DTH industry in the last few years.

The top rated 15 channels on FreeDish had ratings which ranged from 50-80 and almost all of them were private TV channels. DD channels got ratings of zero to three, meaning those were going unwatched.