NBA working out unified approach on DD Olympics footage issue

NEW DELHI: News broadcasters have begun deliberations informally to work out a common strategy to counter the letter received by them from Doordarshan regarding unauthorised use of footage relating to the Beijing Olympics, for which the public broadcaster has sole rights.

While private channels have to mandatorily share their signals relating to sports events involving India with Doordarshan under a Parliamentary act, there is no such provision for Doordarshan to share its content.

Sources in the public broadcaster confirmed in answer to a question by that it had informally been approached by some sports channels including ESPN and Zee Sports before the games began, but not by news channels.

The NBA has convened a meeting early next week, to frame a joint response to Prasar Bharti on the issue of payment for Olympic footage.

The sports editor of a news channel, who didn't want to be named, said he did not expect anything to come out of the meeting as there was lack of unity among broadcasters.

Meanwhile, it is understood that some news channels have already agreed to pay the Rs 500 per second demanded by Doordarshan. However, Doordarshan has permitted free footage of up to one minute a day for purposes of news bulletins.

It is understood that Prasar Bharti is particularly irked by the fact that some news channels broadcast the entire inaugural ceremony live by using their own commentators without any prior agreement.

DD sources said that all news channels were being monitored and will be sent bills immediately after the games are over.

Sources in the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) said there would be a united approach to the whole issue, but refused to give details.

Though no official figures are available for the current Olympics, the public broadcaster’s rates for the 2004 Olympics had been – after an initial high figure - $ 5,000 for up to five hours of footage during the entire games; $ 4,000 for five hours to 25 hours; and $ 3,000 for more than 25 hours.

The News Access Rules set by DD which was sent out to all networks in India at that time stipulated "The duration of Olympic material used in any one programme should not exceed a total of two minutes. The duration of any one particular Olympic event shall not exceed 30 seconds’.

However, some satellite channels had later exceeded this time and had also agreed after much argument to pay wherever they exceeded the guidelines.

According to DD deputy director general – sports Ashok Jailkhani, few channels approached DD, and anyone wanting to use the signals is required to come to an agreement to use the rights as DD has spent a huge amount to buy the rights.

DD was therefore keeping a close watch on the situation as the signals were being used though no news channel had approached the broadcaster.

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