B4U, DD all set to ink deal on FIFA World Cup telecast

With just three days left for the kick-off the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and Korea, indications are that B4U Networks and Doordarshan are on the verge of signing a deal which will allow for the deferred telecast on DD of four matches and a daily highlights capsule.

The sticking point thus far on the negotiations has reportedly been that DD was quoting Rs 250,000 per half hour as placement cost, a figure B4U was attempting to mark down. According to industry sources, the two sides likely to sign the papers tomorrow.

The developments came even as Ten (Taj Entertainment Network) Sports, which holds the rights for India, finally made it official today that it had sold the terrestrial telecast rights to LMB Holdings (promoter of B4U Networks).

Pavithran said that after making its presence felt in all the main southern language channels (Tamil, Telugu, Kannada), Balaji was next looking to enter Malayalam language programming on the Sun Network's Surya channel.

The terrestrial rights allow for transmission of four games only. These are the opening game, two semifinals and the finals on a six-hour delayed telecast. They also include a daily highlights package, also on a six-hour delayed basis, an Ten Sports release said. There was no mention however, of the telecast of the opening and closing ceremonies, which was earlier mentioned as being part of the package.

As for Ten Sports, even as the clock counts down to the 31 May kick-off, there is still no clear indication of how many people will finally get to watch the sporting world's (not for India though) biggest mega event.

Financial daily Economic Times' website reported that in Delhi both the Star-controlled Wincable and the Hindujas InCableNet, which together reach 65 per cent of cable & satellite homes in the capital, have signed up with Ten Sports while the Zee-controlled MSO Siticable had not. In Mumbai however, where the Star-controlled Hathway Cable and Datacom and InCableNet cover nearly 75 per cent of the city there is no word as yet of any deal. In the other three metros of Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore (all of which have one MSO dominating) there is reportedly still no accord in place either. In Kolkata it is RPG Netcom, in Bangalore Hathway and in Chennai Sumangali Cable Vision that rule the roost.

It is difficult to tell whether this is an article of faith or not considering how close at hand the tournament is, but the feeling in the industry seems to be that come 31 May, some agreement will be reached.

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