Prasar Bharati has asked BARC India to take necessary action against nine channels linked to the Zee Network airing its channels free to air without paying slot fee to the public broadcaster.
“It is to convey that following 9 TV channels have not been allotted slots on DD Free Dish by Prasar Bharati and are not part of DD Free Dish bouquet of channels,” the letter by Prasar Bharati said.
It asked the BARC to take ‘necessary action’ against the nine TV channels belonging to Zee Media.
The channels include Zee Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh, Zee Bihar/Jharkhand, Zee Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand, Zee Salaam, Zee Rajasthan, Zee 24 Kalak, Zee Punjab/Haryana/Himachal Pradesh, Zee 24 Taas and Zee Odisha have been in violation of free to air rules.
In the past, several news networks have written to the government against direct-to-home operator Dish TV and Zee Media for uplinking unencrypted signals of various regional news channels.
Zee Media, which runs a clutch of national and regional news channels, has paid for only two slots and telecasts Zee news and Zee Hindustan officially on the Free Dish platform, according to rival networks.
Since 2020, three news networks – ABP, TV9 and Network 18 – have approached the ministry of information and broadcasting against the Zee network, claiming the latter has illegally managed to put nine of its news channels on DD Free Dish without participating in auctions and paying for slots.
This increases Zee network’s reach among millions of viewers, pushes up its TRPs, and gives it an “unfair advantage”.
The loss to Prasar Bharati, networks allege, goes beyond Rs 100 crore. But the ministry has allegedly ignored the complaints, according to a Newslaundry report.
The earliest representation to the I&B ministry dates back to August 2020.
At the time, the ABP, News18 and TV9 networks had claimed that “Zee regional news channels are illegally being available on DD Free Dish and its adverse impact on other regional news channels, loss of revenue to Prasar Bharati and violation of law”.
“Till September 2019, Dish TV was illegally uplinking unencrypted Zee news regional channels from its DTH up-linking centre on to GSAT15 satellite,” they wrote.