DD sees Commonwealth Games rights asking price as too high

NEW DELHI: Adding to the fears of the organisers of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006 on the threat of revenue loss, Indian pubcaster Doordarshan has said that it would negotiate cheaper telecast rights through Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU) instead of dealing with a marketing agent, which is "demanding the moon."

The Commonwealth Games will unveil two new sponsors in the next few days as it confronts threats of a television blackout in Asia, international media reports stated.

Speaking to, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma said, "We are not going to negotiate with the marketing agent, though its representatives have met us twice. The agent is asking for the moon for the telecast rights, which we feel can be negotiated at a cheaper rates through ABU."

Sarma is not only the chief executive of Prasar Bharati, which manages DD and All India Radio, and the president of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation, but is also an important office-bearer of the multi-country apex body ABU, a powerful organisation of Asian broadcasters.

According to Sarma, while for the 2002 Commonwealth Games DD paid approximately $ 200,000, this time the asking price has shot up astronomically to about $ 600,000. Asked whether a situation may arise where DD does not telecast the 2006 Games at all, Sarma refused to comment. India is playing host to the Commonwealth Games in 2010.

Games chairman Ron Walker has been quoted by international media as not being too concerned by suggestions that TV rights have shot up as much as 700 per cent than what was charged for the Manchester 2002 Games and which could result in Indian and Asian broadcasters boycotting Melbourne 2006.

According to Walker, there was no rush to finalise negotiations. "We have put out a price and they're all considering it, so they haven't said no to us, they haven't said yes to us," ABC radio quoted Walker, who added, "Bear in mind that Delhi in India is hosting the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the transmission is vital to them."

If the Asian TV networks decided to boycott the Games, media reports stated, it would result in the potential loss of billions of television viewers. Commonwealth Games Minister Justin Madden said he expected the broadcast rights to be resolved over the next six to eight months, well in advance of the Games.

The reports also said that food giant Nestle Peters will be confirmed as a sponsor, a top-level Games partner was expected to be announced on Wednesday. The two announcements should douse some of the criticism the Games organisers have been confronting that they're struggling to meet their budget and attract sponsorship dollars.

Melbourne 2006 has said that it would have no trouble selling broadcasting rights to Asia despite claims that the asking price was too high. Broadcasting rights have been negotiated so far with the Nine Network in Australia, and with companies in Canada and New Zealand.

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