Prasar puts off for a day final decision on ESS programming

NEW DELHI: Pubcaster Prasar Bharati has left over for another day a final decision on whether to go ahead with a proposal by ESPN Star Sports to do programming for Doordarshan during the upcoming World Cup.

According to Prasar Bharati sources, officials have given one more day to see if an arrangement that is agreeable to both parties can be reached.

ESPN Software country head, Manu Sawhney, is reported to have met Prasar Bharati chief executive, KS Sarma, around noon to iron out the areas of concern.

According to the sources, Sawhney is understood to have made a counter offer to DD: that the national broadcaster produces its own pre and post match programmes and also allows ESPN-Star Sports to do another 30-minute programme on the DD platform.

No decision has been taken yet on that counter-offer though.

In another development, DD also had a meeting with its marketing agents for the World Cup cricket, Nimbus Communications, recently and discussed the ESS proposal, amongst other issues.

According to information available, Nimbus is to give DD a no-objection certificate on the ESS proposal to buy time on DD platform to produce cricket-related programmes. Nimbus is understood to have said that ESS can produce programmes on DD provided the production is not done from the actual locations in South Africa as it may result in revenue loss for Nimbus.

The NoC is still awaited from Nimbus as DD wants it before taking a stand on ESS proposal as the latter does not want to get involved in any arbitration matter over this issue.

When contacted, Nimbus CMD Harish Thawani said he was not at liberty to discuss detailed clauses but said that the intimation given to DD was that they were free to pick anybody to do programming for them. Thawani, however, stressed that if ESS were assigned the task then DD has to ensure that no ESPN Star Sports branding appeared anywhere on the show. This was to protect the interests of Sony Entertainment (which has the C&S telecast rights), he clarified.

Last week, while addressing a press conference, Sarma had said that DD would decide by Monday whether it would go to bed with ESS or produce cricket-related programmes in-house.

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