Taking a tough stand, the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has dropped five channels from its DTH (direct to home) service "DD Direct Plus" for not paying the carriage fees.
The broadcaster blacked out Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, TV9, Akash Bangla and Star Utsav after they failed to pay the carriage fee despite repeated notices and extensions.
Earlier the public broadcaster, which claims to be the largest DTH service beaming into more than 5 million Indian homes, had given a deadline of August 15 to these five channels to pay up. The deadline was extended several times on their request.
"They probably thought Prasar Bharati would not do anything. But we decided to act tough and dropped them. Afterall we have to meet our operational expenses also," a senior Prasar Bharati official told PTI.
The broadcaster said sufficient time was given to these channels and as a policy decision it was decided that DD Direct Plus would not carry any channel which is free.
Under the latest rules, a domestic channel is required to pay Rs 25 lakh per annum as carriage fee whereas for the foreign channels it is Rs 50 lakh per annum.
DD Direct Plus, which positions itself as the world's only free DTH, does not charge any subscription fee from the viewer as a matter of policy.
All channels that are shown on this are free to air channels. It has no pay channel on board.