Parleys on to find way out of cricket telecast impasse

NEW DELHI: The high stakes poker game around the telecast of the historic cricket series between India and Pakistan looks to be entering the end game stage. That was not evident to most viewers in Mumbai and Pune and 40 per cent of Delhi though, who could do nothing but gnash their teeth in frustration as they had to rely on the news channels for some glimpses of the action on the field today as India faced the Pakistan A team.

In the capital meanwhile, Ten Sports CEO Chris McDonald met regulator chief Pradip Baijal today afternoon. The Indian government, which has taken on the role of "facilitator" in the imbroglio, is scheduled to meet with Ten Sports executives later this evening in an attempt to hammer out a solution to the vexed cricket telecast issue.

One of the options, according to government officials, that Ten Sports would be offered is simulcast on the satellite sports channel and on Doordarshan's national terrestrial network. The hook being that Ten gets to keep whatever ad revenues DD manages to garner out of the telecast (or it let Ten sell the event?).

Under this formula, DD won't pay Ten any money but offer the platform and also allow Ten's logo to go during the broadcast.

The other option is to make available to DD the feeds of the cricket matches on a deferred basis. But, here, the time of deferment would be crucial as in one-dayers even six overs makes a lot of difference. Under this formula, DD would have to pay some money based on mutually arrived at agreements.

Though Ten Sports officials could not be immediately reached for their reactions, it is also learnt that the government has advised DD to be flexible if Ten agrees, in the first place, to consider a compromise formula.

The government feels that non-telecast of the matches on DD of a series, which has been "largely facilitated by the government", may lead to law and order problems. However, the government also acknowledges Ten's contention that DD signals would be stolen or pirated by those cable ops that have not signed up with the Dubai-based broadcaster.

Meanwhile, Ten conveyed to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) its apprehensions on cable operators stealing signals if DD is provided a feed and also dwelt on other issues during a visit that was termed a "courtesy call" by Baijal's office.

Keep tuned in for more on the cricket soap opera.

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