Must share: Prasar Bharati eyes F1, Fifa World Cup, Grand Slams

MUMBAI: After the government doctored the pitch in its favour, the Indian pubcaster now wants a share of more than just cricket under new media norms that mandate private broadcasters share listed events with Prasar Bharati.

This, coupled with stringent downlink norms, has forced at least two sports broadcasters --- Ten Sports and ESPN Star Sports --- to move the courts on the ground that such an environment would not only start telling on their bottomlines, but also breach their rights to carry on fair business.

Even as industry-government consultations are on to pinpoint sporting events, Prasar Bharati has conveyed to the information and broadcasting ministry that it would like properties such as the Football World Cup 2006, Formula One and the Tennis Grand Slams to be included in the list.

It is pertinent to note that the government is looking to see which properties should be included in that list and has had some talks with the sports ministry and private broadcasters in this regard.

A private sports broadcaster grudgingly admitted to that the demands of Prasar Bharati, which manages Doordarshan and All India Radio, is making things tricky as the pubcaster gets more greedy.

The concerns of sports broadcasters get accentuated as some big non-cricket events are to be held over the next few months, which includes the Australian Open tennis, and the telecast rights of which are with a private broadcaster.

The next meeting of representatives from the broadcast industry and the I&B ministry is scheduled to be held this week

Meanwhile, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has joined hands with rival Ten Sports in taking the government to court over the matter of sharing feeds with Prasar Bharati, including those events also for which telecast agreements had been concluded before the new law came into effect recently.

On Friday, ESS moved the Delhi High Court challenging some of the clauses in the downlink guidelines.

After an initial hearing, the matter has been kept for further arguments after the court's winter vacation finishes early next year.

The ESS petition has made the Prasar Bharati too a party to the case.

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