New Delhi: The Government will follow a three-tier bidding process to auction slots on Doordarshan's free-to-air DTH platform to private broadcasters with a minimum benchmark of Rs 1.5 crore as carriage fee for each channel.

Carriage fees to cable and DTH operators account for about 50 per cent of a channel's total cost.

The auction, to be held shortly, will be carried out in three rounds, said a senior I&B Ministry official, adding that the objective is to maintain "transparency and objectivity" in the entire process.

As many as 350 channels are believed to be in queue to join the public broadcaster's DTH platform which at present has 59 channels, of which 19 are Doordarshan channels and 36 are private ones.

Over eight million household have DD's DTH Service across the country, which the officials said could go up substantially once the 200 channels are rolled out.

"The inclusion of more channels would also trigger a competition in the market and a slash in subscription rate by other players, a win-win situation for the customers," he said.

"Letters have been sent to all the channels who have applied to be placed on DD DTH platform and also to all those existing channels on DD Direct Plus platform who are completing their annual agreements up to April 30, 2011, inviting them to participate in the auction process," the official said.

The Government had recently also unveiled guidelines for the FM radio phase-III expansion through the auction of license which could yield it Rs 1,733 crore of income.

(Agencies)