new set of regulations relating to sports broadcasting,
given the green signal by the Indian Cabinet earlier
this week, is retrograde and highlights the height
of populism that politicians can climb. And, all in
the name of public interest, which certainly is the
last thing thats on politicians priority
the mandatory content sharing with pubcaster Doordarshan
is not enough, the government in all likelihood is
set to walk into more legal wrangling as such a move
would not only diminish the sports events value,
but also have a tell-tale effect on private investment
that is made for the development of sports in the
country, in general.
mandatory content sharing norm will apply to all future
sports events, including those covered by existing
contracts relating to broadcasting rights. In case
of cricket where the rights have been obtained prior
to this law coming into effect, all matches featuring
India and the finals would have to be shared with
DD by private rights holders.
Prasar Bharati, controlling DD and All India Radio,
will be able to transmit such events on its free
to air terrestrial channel and (also) carried through
satellite, apart from its subscription-free
DTH service. Of course, the ad revenue accruing through
such events on DD will be shared in the ratio of 75:25
in favour of private rights holders.
does this mean? Prasar Bharati gets prized sporting
events almost free of cost, while private broadcasters
and rights holders business model relating to
subscription revenue goes for a six. Almost.
created the coffin for pay channels, which depend
heavily on exclusive events to drive subscription
revenue, the government also has tightened the noose
around foreign news channels, saying they would not
be allowed landing rights in India unless cleared
on a case-to-case basis if they have programming and
advertising targeted at the Indian audiences.
giving itself discretionary powers to waive permission
regarding foreign news channels, the government has
taken several steps backward at a time when it is
committed to liberalization. The more things appear
to change, the less they actually change.
the contentious issue of content sharing has its genesis
in private broadcasters getting into legal spat over
rights with DD.
has to be admitted that continued refusal to share
cricket, still a money-spinner despite Indian teams
indifferent performances in recent times, with DD
--- a certain Dubai-based sports broadcaster is considered
a major irritant within the government --- just strengthened
the governments resolve to bring in stringent
the broadcasting industry not missed the wood for
the trees, it would have realized the importance of
the pubcaster, especially in a country like India
where still approximately 40 million TV homes dont
get cable TV, and the fact that pushed into a corner
politicians would give into populist measures. All
in the interest of the so-called masses.
what about the Indian cricket board? It would be interesting
to see how the bidders for domestic cricket react
now? It would not be totally outlandish to conjure
a scenario where private players like ESPN Star Sports,
Zee Sports, SET India and even Ten Sports bury their
differences --- whatever they may be --- to bring
down cricket rights prices to levels that might knock
the financial bottom out of the Board of Control for
Cricket in India and make a dent in its arrogant attitude.
After all, enemys enemy can turn out to be an
hindsight, the regulatory developments lend credence
to the age old tale of two monkeys fighting for a
piece of cake, while the cat ended up eating the whole
of it. Today it is sports, notably cricket; tomorrow
it might be just any other content on TV.
and some introspection within the industry, probably,
is the best medicine that the doctor could prescribe.