The new uplinking and downlinking guidelines for private TV channels, through which the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry had last year proposed to address the issue of some channels “bypassing” the auction process for DD Free Dish slots, are yet to see the light of day.
“The draft guidelines are still to be finalised and taken up for discussion. The matter is under consideration,” said a government source.
In February 2021, through a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, the I&B Minister said that the Ministry received a reference from Prasar Bharati regarding reception of some channels of private broadcasters on Free Dish set-top boxes which were not part of the channels downlinkable from that platform.
“This situation has arisen due to co-location of signals and non-mandatory requirement for encryption of signals of a free-to-air TV channel. The Ministry proposes to address this issue in the new uplinking and downlinking guidelines for private TV channels to be notified by the government,” said the reply.
On April 5, in response to questions from six Members of Parliament on the issue of encryption of channels, the Minister said: “Free-to-air channels are not mandatorily required to be encrypted. It has been reported that signals of certain free-to-air channels, though not on DD Free Dish platform, are also being received due to co-location of signals of these channels and DD Free Dish and non-mandatory requirement for encryption of signals of free-to-air channels.”
Over the years, the Ministry has received complaints that some channels have been using unencrypted signals for uplinking and downlinking on the Free Dish platform, causing huge losses to the exchequer. The Free Dish Direct-To-Home slots are e-auctioned to satellite TV channels.