Prasar Bharati bowls a googly on cricket radio rights

NEW DELHI: Indian pubcaster Prasar Bharati doesn’t give up easily even though broadcasting guidelines are heavily loaded in its favour.

The latest in this story of the pubcaster vs. private sports broadcasters is that a letter has been shot off to the Indian cricket board on the non-exclusive rights that would be granted to All India Radio.

According to sources in Prasar Bharati, which manages Doordarshan and AIR, the pubcaster has said that it should be granted exclusive broadcast rights for domestic Indian cricket as within India no other TV or radio station can air commentary due to present government norms.

Prasar Bharati’s letter to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) contends that AIR has to be given exclusive broadcast rights, contrary to no-exclusive rights as has been announced by the cricket board, because private FM radio stations are debarred from airing news and current affairs programmes.

Prasar Bharati has interpreted running commentary as news and current affairs programming, a segment that is out of bounds presently for private FM radio players.


In India, private companies are given licences to operate only FM radio stations in select cities, while AIR broadcasts in medium and short waves too throughout the country.

Earlier this month, while taking major decisions on broadcast rights of Indian cricket, the BCCI had said that though AIR would be given the rights free, it would be on a non-exclusive basis as radio rights would be marketed separately like DTH, IPTV and mobile telephony.

BCCI is yet to respond to the letter that gives an all new twist to the broadcast rights issue.

Pubcaster’s arrears to be recovered legally

Meanwhile, the financially-burdened public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has initiated legal action and arbitration proceedings to recover arrears running over Rs 1,750 million from defaulting agencies, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI).

"Arbitration proceedings/legal action have been initiated to recover the arrears," Information and Broadcasting minister P R Dasmunsi informed Rajya Sabha (Upper House) in a written reply.

Asked whether the government planned to revive the annual licencing system for radio and TV sets or a one-time tax to finance Prasar Bharati, Dasmunsi said no specific proposals were under consideration.

"However, various ideas have been mooted to strengthen Prasar Bharati's autonomous financial base," PTI quoted the minister as saying.

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