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DD hopes to make Rs 300 m. from World Cup

NEW DELHI: The Prasar Bharati Corporation board, which met here Friday here for the first time under the chairmanship of new incumbent MV Kamath, took a slew of decisions ranging from augmenting revenue, to increasing the public broadcasters' (Doordarshan an All India Radio) reach, to going in for an Ombudsman to settle arbitration cases quickly.

Though AIR seems to have met its annual revenue target, DD is still behind the target of net revenue of Rs 5250 million for the financial year ending 31 March, 2003.

Announcing the decisions taken at today's board meet, Prasar Bharati chief executive K.S. Sarma told journalists that DD has managed to corner an additional 27 World Cup matches to be shown on a delayed basis on DD Metro. 

Pointing out that Prasar Bharati has taken a leaf out of private satellite broadcasters who repeat one-dayers the next day, Sarma said, "By airing the cricket matches the next day on DD Metro. We are trying to get in more viewers onto that channel." Reason: attract smaller and retail advertisers, cater to those people who may have missed the live action because of the timing of the matches in South Africa (6.p.m-1.30 a.m. IST and 2.30 p.m.-10 p.m. IST) the previous day and "popularise DD Metro channel which needs to be resurrected."

Pointing out that for DD the World Cup cricket is a win-win situation as there is no outgo of money (DD is only providing the platform for telecast; revenue being shared between DD and Nimbus on 20:80 basis), but only inflow, Sarma said, "Our equity is the platform and its vast reach. At best, we may end up making revenue of around Rs 30 crore from the World Cup or at worst we'll have Rs 23 crore which is the minimum guarantee money (given by the agents of Global Cricket Corporation, the global rights holder of the World Cup cricket)."

Moreover, Sarma said, they were airing on a delayed basis the 27 cricket matches on a terrestrial channel that has "40 per cent more reach than a satellite channel."

"Though I don't want to blame anybody, but sometimes I wonder why wasn't this formula also used for the World Cup soccer where we couldn't show much?" Sarma said.

PLAN TO COMMERCIALLY UTILISE UNUSED LAND

Announcing the decisions taken at today's board meet, Prasar Bharati chief executive KS Sarma told journalists that the pubcaster has decided to explore the possibilities of exploiting commercially the unused land that it has at its disposal.

According to Sarma, the Corporation is likely to approach the Housing Urban development Corporation (Hudco) to find users for such real estate. "The board has suggested that we may start with Hudco and, if need be, approach multinational real estate consultants too," Sarma said.

As Prasar Bharati cannot sell the land it has, such real estate would only be given out on lease to preferably government organizations with "private parties being the last option."

Prasar Bharati has at its disposal - some of them at prime locations round the country, including Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore - 500-600 acres of land, "most of which is lying idle." Sarma added: "Our land definitely will be sought after."

AIR IN CONTENT EXCHANGE DEAL WITH BBC, VoA

The Prasar Bharati board also has decided to accept some proposals of BBC radio and Voice of America to use the AIR platform to produce and air non-news and current affairs programming on a "reciprocal basis."

According to Sarma, if for example BBC uses 30 minutes of time on an AIR channel, AIR also would get the same amount of time on BBC's domestic service.

In VoA's case, AIR would decide which places it would like to broadcast on VoA's networks. If Prasar Bharati decides, it can also market the BBC programmes of AIR and pocket the revenue generated.

In a bid to strengthen AIR further, which has already crossed its FY 2002-03 revenue targets, the Prasar Bharati board has decided to go ahead with the plan to have more programming nation-wide on SW and medium wave as also have a 20kw transmitter of AIR to broadcast various regional languages programming on a channel that would be available in Delhi. Reason: cater to all those people who have come to Delhi from other parts of the country.

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