India-WI series: DD, Nimbus talks fail; govt looks set to ram through ordinance

NEW DELHI: The talks between rights holder Nimbus Sports and Prasar Bharati over sharing of telecast signals of the upcoming India-West Indies cricket series have broken down. And with the government having finalized the provisions of an ordinance on the compulsory sharing of "sporting events of national importance", the chances of it being promulgated are now high, say government officials.

The formula Nimbus proposed was that DD agree to a 15-minute delayed telecast transmission beyond Neo Sport's actual live telecast, saying that DD should use the term "As Live" for their transmission.

Nimbus also did not agree to DD showing the matches on its DTH platform DD Direct Plus.

The top official of DD reportedly reacted to the proposal terming it as totally unacceptable. "We cannot have someone having freshly baked bread and others stale stuff," DD mandarins asserted.

Nimbus has said if at all it shares the feed, the signals have to be encrypted so that it reaches houses only on the terrestrial network and not those that get DD signals through cable TV.

However, Prasar Bharati officials, citing previous government orders and court rulings that they claim have gone in their favour, are demanding that they should get live feed of the cricket series, without any conditions, and that it also be shared on DD's DTH platform.

Following the breakdown of talks DD officials have gone back to taking the cover of the Uplink-Downlink Guidelines that perforce allow DD to get the telecast feed.

While officials were hesitant to actually state that the ordinance was on its way, they admitted that it "looks like either tonight or tomorrow it is most likely to be issued", if Nimbus did not agree to go by the guidelines.

Prasar Bharati officials also said that the provisions of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Compulsory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Bill 2007 has been drafted and if the ordinance comes through, it will be a precursor to the Bill. "If the ordinance comes, they will not be able to flout it," the officials said.

Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati officials said that there was little time now to generate the advertisements for the first game, "but we have go the ads lined up. It is just the question of ringing the bell".

"Hopefully, there will be a three-day gap between the first and second matches and ads generated by Prasar Bharati can be aired," the officials said, adding that there were government as well as corporate advertisers lined up.

India and West Indies will play four one-day matches during January 21-31. The series will be followed by Sri Lanka's tour to India in February.

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