Television

BCCI bowls a telecast googly to DD

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NEW DELHI: If you thought with a new set of people taking over the Indian cricket board, the telecast rights controversy is over, then think again.

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today stating that its the owner of all Indian cricket content and that Doordarshan will have to carry cricket feeds as provided by the Board, an entirely new dimension has been added to the telecast issue.

This stand is likely to snowball into another controversy. Unless, of course, the government bends a little to let the BCCI, now headed by agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, have its way.

Pointing out that the BCCI is the "actual owner of the cricket feed, BCCI vice-president Lalit Modi today told journalists, From now on, the BCCI logo will have to be (carried) across the TV screens of the rights holder and even DD"

On a more controversial note, when specifically questioned on the issue, Modi added, DD cannot make any changes in the feed that is given to it.

They cannot insert fresh ads." This is only if DD is not the original rights holder.

According to Modi, Let us make it clear that the rights are owned by the BCCI and the (TV) channels are only licensees."

What this could mean --- which, however, Modi did not explain fully --- is that if the Indian pubcaster is not the original telecast rights holder, it would have to carry an ad-free clean feed of cricket matches or, more importantly, carry the advertisements booked by the original rights holder.

Though KS Sarma, CEO of Prasar Bharati, which manages DD and All India Radio, diplomatically observed well look into the issue as and when it comes up, DD sources rubbished BCCI claims.

If the BCCI insists on DD or a third party not marketing the cricket matches shown on DDs network, then it would amount to defying the government that has passed a law in this regard, a Prasar Bharati source told Indiantelevision.com.

Giving a flip side of the picture, the source added that if the cricket board insisted on DD carrying an ads-free feed of cricket matches, then it could pose serious financial problems to the rights holder as viewers would flock to DD to see a match minus interferences from advertising, which could also result in advertisers paying low rates to any other channel for lack of viewership.

What does the newly-enacted downlink law states as far as sports broadcasting is concerned?

Clause 5.2 of the downlink norms state, Sports channels/sports rights management companies having TV broadcasting rights shall with immediate effect share their feed with Prasar Bharati for national and international sporting events of national importance, held in India or abroad, for terrestrial transmission and DTH broadcasting (free-to-air).

The events of national importance shall be determined by the ministry of information & broadcasting. In case of cricket events, these shall include all matches featuring India and the finals and semi-finals of international competitions.

According to the guidelines, which is there for anybody to access on the I&B ministrys site, it has been clearly stated, The marketing of the events rights (terrestrial as well as satellite/DTH services of DD) will be decided through mutual negotiations between Prasar Bharati and the rights holder.

Revenue sharing formula of 75:25 in favour of rights holders without any minimum guarantee/opportunity cost should be applied.

However, the stridency in BCCI can be gauged from the fact that Modi said all news channels, henceforth, must have a direct contract with BCCI" for usage of cricket visuals for use in news bulletins and other related programmes.

Modi insisted that the BCCI had a meeting on these aspects with all channels, including DD," though senior officials of Prasar Bharati denied knowledge of such a meeting.

Meanwhile, the BCCI has clarified that though Air Sahara is the Indian cricket teams sponsor, its not the official airline for the team also. We will take a decision on official airline later," Modi added.

Apart from sale of radio and broadband rights, the Indian cricket board is set to cash in on the telecom boom by separately hawking rights for mobile telephony for multi-media and short text messages on cell phones.

The rights for voice over IP and radio telephony would be retained by the BCCI, Press Trust of India reported.

The Board also plans to set up its own portal which, besides providing day to day updates and information about it, would beam live matches, archival footage, interviews, memorabilia and merchandising activities.

A sub-committee of the marketing panel has been formed to take forward and implement the decisions.

The subcommittee, chaired by Modi, will have I S Bindra, A C Muthiah, Ranbir Singh Mahendra, K V Rao and Shashank Manohar as office-bearers.

PTI also quoted Modi as saying that from now on, players would get a share of "collective 26 percent of the grand total revenue of Board's all streams of revenue."

Asked if such grandiose plans might go in vain since the regime could change next year, Modi said all contracts it had signed so far were "legally binding."

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