Cricket: Finally, AIR gets Indo-England series

NEW DELHI: The cricket soap opera continues to hold centre stage as All India Radio (AIR) today said it has managed to get hold of rights to the on-going India-England cricket series after missing out the first Test.

The second Test cricket, which begins at Mohali, Chandigarh tomorrow now will be available to listeners on 65 medium wave and four FM radio frequencies of AIR.

According to an official of Prasar Bharati, which manages AIR and sibling Doordarshan, after hectic negotiations a deal was swung with the rights holder of Indian cricket, Nimbus, over the last 24 hours.

After the first Test went missing on AIR, there were token protests from various people that a large number of the Indian population will not get to enjoy cricket being played in India.

Though, Prasar Bharati was shy of revealing the financial details --- as was Nimbus --- the official admitted the asking fee for the rights has been scaled down and the deal is mutually beneficial for everybody concerned.

AIR was deprived of the running commentary of the first Test after it said that the asking price of $ 300,000 for the entire series was "too high".

It is now learnt that Nimbus, which has had long standing relationship with Prasar Bharati, agreed to pare the rights price considerably.

With this deal, AIR will get to air the remaining part of the cricket series, comprising three Tests and seven one-day internationals.

Meanwhile, Indian cricket board sources indicated that Anil
Ambani-controlled Adlabs, which is yet to start FM radio stations, might land the rights for FM radio that had not been sold till now.

However, when questioned on the issue, an official of the information and broadcasting ministry said it has not cleared cricket commentary as non-news and current affairs programming.

Earlier, Prasar Bharati, along with the ministry, had maintained that cricket commentary cannot be categorized as entertainment and falls under news and current affairs, which is not allowed on private FM radio stations.

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