DD bags Commonwealth Games rights

NEW DELHI: The telecast rights of the Commonwealth Games 2006 have been bagged by pubcaster Prasar Bharati, beating competition from a pay TV operator that had quoted a higher fee for the rights of the India region.

The deal, signed after some tough negotiations between the organizers of the Games and Prasar Bharati (that manages Doordarshan and All India Radio), envisages the Indian pubcaster paying a rights fee of $ 400,000.

The agreement also provides for a 70:30 revenue share in favour of Prasar Bharati for ad revenues generated over the rights fee, the pubcaster said in a statement today.

Both the Games organizers and Prasar Bharati termed the agreement a win-win one for all parties concerned. The pubcaster claimed a high level team, led by its chief executive KS Sarma, concluded the deal with M2006, the entity that holds the world-wide rights for the Game.

Besides Prasar Bharati, another private sector pay TV operator had also bid for the rights quoting a price of over $ 700,000.

What tilted the balance in favour of Prasar Bharati was a set of media norms announced by the Indian government recently that stipulates all sporting events of national importance will have to be shared with the pubcaster on a mandatory basis even if private broadcasters hold the rights.

And, Commonwealth Games, which is to be held next in Delhi in 2010 afterMelbourne, certainly fell in the category of events of national importance for India.

However, Prasar Bharati claimed that the Games organizers preferred it over a pay TV operator as they wanted the events to reach out to the largest number of TV audiences in India. As the terrestrial broadcaster, DD lays claims to be reaching almost 90 per cent of the nearly 100 million TV homes in a country with over one billion population.

The event, which will be held in Melbourne from 15-26 March, 2006, will be broadcast live over Doordarshan's terrestrial network -- DD National -- and its satellite channel, DD Sports. All India Radio will broadcast running commentary of important matches and events.

The 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games will feature 16 events, including athletics, swimming, gymnastics, shooting, weightlifting, hockey, badminton, table tennis, basketball, boxing and cycling, among others. More than 4,500 sporting personalities from 72 countries will take part in the 12-day event.

The 18th Commonwealth Games are touted as the biggest sporting event to be held in Melbourne, even bigger than the Olympics, which the Victorian city hosted in 1956.

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