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‘We don’t believe in the principle of exclusivity’

23-April-2004
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‘We don’t believe in the principle of exclusivity’

After getting the exclusive telecast rights to the Athens Olympics, state broadcaster Doordarshan (DD) is keen to share the feed with private channels. But, only to an extent, and on commercial terms. DD director-general Naveen Kumar told FE: “I don’t believe in the principle of exclusivity. I would like to share (the Olympics feed) with others.” However, he’s quick to add: “I want other channels to build on this theory too.”

DD, which has been allowed to sub-license the Olympics feed within the country, would only offer highlights, medal tallies, and short clips to private channels. There’s no question of sharing the signals live.

Incidentally, DD and Dubai-based sport channel Ten Sports got into a legal tangle recently over sharing Indo-Pak cricket signals. While Ten had the exclusive rights to the Indo-Pak series, DD got to share the signal live, with the intervention of the Supreme Court.

DD has paid Rs 27 crore to Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU) for the Olympics telecast rights. ABU had bought the bulk telecast rights for the region. The state broadcaster would spend another couple of crores for coverage of the Games, travel and stay of the 15-member DD crew.

As for returns, advertisers are gung-ho about Olympics, indicated Mr Kumar. This is despite the general projection that India has no market for non-cricket events. “Olympics are different. They have a mass following,” the DG clarified.

To hardsell Olympics, DD claims that it’s going all out. It’s booking six lines of satellite: in case of a clash between two key events, DD would show one on DD-1 and the other on DD Sports. While DD Sports would show the Games for 24 hours, DD-1 will have three slots in a day. The number of hours to be devoted on DD-1 is not clear yet! As of now, DD’s talking of showing the opening and closing ceremony, hockey, soccer, athletics, tennis, shooting, weightlifting. With just about a two-hour time difference, opening and closing could be marketed as prime-time events in India. There would be innovations too, like having a regional window for the Games, packaging events with glamour, and creating special programmes around stars like long-jumper Anju George.

But Doodarshan is not talking figures yet. “We’ll be happy if we can recover the cost,” said Mr Kumar. Although DD may be able to sell Olympics highlights to private channels, it’s not sure of making a killing out of it. As the DG said, “DD is not here for a commercial purpose. The aim is to reach as many people as we can.” He adds: “That doesn’t mean that we’ll allow other channels to make money with our feed.” Bottom line: DD wants its rights protected!

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