Prasar Bharati has rejected the offer made by Ten Sports regarding the transmission of the forthcoming Triangular-Series to be played in Sri Lanka.
In a sternly-worded letter to Ten Sports CEO Chris McDonald, Doordarshan Director-General Navin Kumar said, “Admitedly, Ten Sports does not have a terrestrial network in India. Obtaining terrestrial rights and then not utilising them tantamounts to squatting over or hoarding of such rights, which is clearly not in public interest.”
Kumar further said that the assumption that simulcast would reduce the viewership of Ten Sports was not correct. In fact, the simulcast of matches during the cricket World Cup 2003 shows that there was no reduction in the viewership of the encrypted channel.
“In so far as the India-Pakistan series is concerned, Ten Sports had the benefit of the platform of Doordarshan, which has now a reach of 108 million homes. No loss was caused to Ten Sports by the telecast of the matches by Doordarshan. Rather, Ten Sports earned substantial amounts by way of increased advertisement revenue,” Kumar pointed out.
The DD Director-General pointed out that even ICC was ensuring no satellite channel got the World Cup and Mini World Cup rights on exclusive basis and that the rights were always shared with terrestrial broadcasters.
“This is evident from the fact that Prasar Bharati already has terrestrial rights for the Mini World Cup 2006 and World Cup 2007. Therefore, there is no merit in not sharing an event which is of much lesser scale and dimension when compared to Champions Trophy and the World Cup,” Kumar maintained.
In fact, Kumar went on to convey to McDonald in his letter, “We would like to reiterate that sports and games are not totally commercial products and they promote certain essential values and have certain cultural foundations, which are being assiduously developed over decades by public broadcasters like AIR and Doordarshan. Therefore, a completely commercial view of the matter is totally unwarranted.”
“Since you have yourself admitted that sub-licensing is completely at your discretion, we are only requesting you to exercise it keeping in view the public interest and overall interest of the game. I would like to request you to look beyond narrow commercial considerations in the larger interest of the Indian public as well as for the furtherance of the game of cricket and provide signal of the Triangular Series to Doordarshan for live telecast as proposed by us,” Kumar added.
For a change, the drama off field this time is perhaps more intriguing than all the action on the field. Though Ten Sports has not yet commented on Prasar Bharati’s letter, they are bound to react to it in some way soon. Check this space for the latest developments.