Last-ditch attempt on for cricket broadcast on DD, AIR

NEW DELHI: With talks breaking down between Prasar Bharati and Nimbus Sports on sharing the live feed of the India-West Indies and the India- Sri Lanka ODI series to be played over the next four weeks, the national broadcaster today indicated that it will make a last-ditch attempt in the interest of them viewers to call Nimbus back to the negotiating table.

Information and broadcasting ministry sources told that in case no agreement was reached, the government may issue an ordinance to implement the Downlinking/Uplinking Guidelines issued by the ministry in November 2005.

The guidelines make it compulsory for sports telecast rights holder channels to share the live feed of important sporting events with Doordarshan and AIR by entering into a commercial agreement. The terms provide for revenue sharing of 75:25 in favour of the rights holders.

Prasar Bharati said that negotiations which had been going on for two days had broken down in view of new conditions laid down by Nimbus Sports, the rights holders for the BCCI organized cricket events in India, which were unacceptable to the national broadcaster.

Prasar Bharati and Nimbus Sports had entered into an agreement in February 2006 for telecast of the India –England series. Prasar Bharati had preferred another agreement on similar lines. But the national broadcaster said Nimbus put forward new conditions – which deviated from the Uplinking/Downlinking Guidelines and were unacceptable to Prasar Bharati.

Nimbus suggested a 15 minute deferred telecast on Doordarshan’s terrestrial channel referred ‘AS LIVE’. Thus, people having Cable TV would get live feed on NEO SPORTS and those watching DD will see it 15 minutes later.

This proposal was straightaway rejected by Prasar Bharati CEO BS Lalli who said “it is unacceptable to divide the citizens into two categories – one getting to eat freshly baked bread and others stale stuff.”

“Equity and propriety demands that uniform clean feed of international quality is made available to all viewers,” he added.

Nimbus also suggested exclusion of Doordarshan’s free-to-air DTH – DD Direct Plus from the live feed sharing agreement. But the Guidelines cover DTH medium as well.

Prasar Bharati has been demanding sharing of feed to enable universal viewing of cricket matches. Doordarshan’s terrestrial channel – DD National – has three times higher viewership than the number one satellite channel in the country, according to the Indian Readership Survey 2006.

With no breakthrough, 55 million terrestrial TV homes, DTH households and cable homes without Set Top Boxes in CAS implemented areas will not be able to watch the Indian team in action against the Caribbeans and the Lankans.

Prasar Bharati had asked Nimbus Sports to at least allow broadcast of commentary on All India Radio to enable millions of radio listeners to catch latest score, but Nimbus said: “If there is no agreement on Television, there can be no agreement on radio either.”

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