Television

ESS to share with DD semis, final of soccer World Cup

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NEW DELHI: ESPN Star Sports has reached an in-principal agreement with the government to make available the semi-final and final matches of FIFA World Cup soccer to Indian pubcaster Doordarshan.

Confirming the development, ESPN India MD RC Venkateish said as an icing on the cake and a goodwill gesture, DD may end up with having the opening ceremony of the soccer feast too.

ESS, which holds the exclusive rights of the soccer World Cup for the India region, will share the feeds of the above mentioned matches with DD on a 75:25 revenue share basis.

This sort of a pact is on the lines of concessions that private broadcasters, holding exclusive rights for events held outside India, are ready to make involving Grand Slam tennis tournaments and important cricket series.

Asked whether DD will have to do without the soccer World Cup as the `listed sports’ have not been notified as mandated by the newly-formulated downlink norms, a senior government official gave a non-committal answer.

“The list of sports of national importance is not yet ready to be notified. So nothing definite can be said on soccer at the moment,” I&B additional secretary P Singh said today on the sidelines of a press conference called by Prasar Bharati, which manages DD and All India Radio.

The downlink norms state that irrespective of the rights holder, all sporting events of national importance will have to be shared with the national broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, on a mandatory basis. This also includes events taking place outside India.

However, both Ten Sports and ESS have moved the courts appealing against this norm.

The month-long soccer World Cup, which begins in June 2006, is a hot property for any broadcaster in the world and despite India never reaching even the qualifying stages of the tournament, the number of soccer fans here is legion.

Being one of ESS’ biggest properties for the year, the channel has already announced a slew of initiatives that it is hoping will build excitement.

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