M2006: Zee close to a deal; DD ups price

NEW DELHI: Pubcaster Doordarshan has virtually given up the race for getting an omnibus telecast rights for Commonwealth Games 2006, instead deciding to settle for just the terrestrial rights at an increased price of $ 500,000.



With the pubcaster hoping to only bag the terrestrial rights, which would take the Melbourne Games to over 90 million TV homes through DD’s networks in the country, the task of private sector Zee Sports channel becomes easier.



While Prasar Bharati, which manages DD, had earlier bid $ 400,000 ($A532,000) for the Games’ rights, Zee Sports was said to have quoted a price of $ 650,000.

Speaking to today, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma said, “The logjam over rights continues. Though we have increased our bid to $ 500,000, we have also told the Games authorities that we’ll be happy with the terrestrial rights.”

However, during a week when M2006 expects to finalise the telecast deal for the India region, which is considered a huge market for Games’ sponsors, Sarma added today, “We are still not sure as the Games management team has only told us that our new offer is being considered.”

Sarma and Zee Sports both expressed ignorance till the time of writing this report that a M2006 team has left Australia on 12 September for India to close the telecast deal.

“We have no information that any official of the Games management team is coming to India. They haven’t got in touch with us yet,” Sarma said.

Ozzie newspaper The Australian reported on 12 September that M2006 chief executive John Harnden and Victorian sports minister Justin Madden left for India on Monday to present a progress report to the executive board of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

“They are expected to sign a deal in New Delhi with an Indian cable TV operator, which would then on sell a two-hour daily highlights package to India's public broadcaster, Doorarshan,” The Australian said, hinting that that the M2006 has decided to bypass the pubcaster DD for a satellite channel.

The newspaper also said that those who do not buy cable TV in India will have to make do with a two-hour daily highlights package, despite New Delhi's role as host of the next Games in 2010. This makes it quite clear that M2006 is hoping that the private channel would come to an understanding with DD for a highlights package.

M2006 had hoped to sign a deal direct with Doorarshan, the world's biggest free-to-air network. But a standoff on price scuttled the negotiations after India said M2006 wanted too much for the TV rights, but M2006 chairman Ron Walker refused to cut the price, the Aussie newspaper stated.

New Delhi will play host to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

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