Hardly has the Pepsi Cup series begun, but Neo Sports and Doordarshan are already caught in a tussle over the telecast rights of the series with neither ready to blink first. The public broadcaster wants to telecast the Hindi feed of the series which will be shown on Neo Sports Plus.
India will be playing eight ODIs – four against West Indies and four against Sri Lanka – before heading for the World Cup in the West Indies. The telecast rights of the matches are with Nimbus, but the uplinking / downlinking Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in November 2005 stipulate that sports broadcast rights holders should share the live feed with Prasar Bharati (i.e. Doordarshan and AIR) by entering into a commercial agreement.
The agreement provides for a revenue sharing of 75:25 in favour of the rights holder. Prasar Bharati and Nimbus had entered into a similar agreement during 2005 to telecast India-England series, which was executed smoothly. However, this time sources informed that Nimbus put forward new conditions – some of which are not acceptable to Prasar Bharati. Nimbus wants 15 minute deferred telecast on DD referred ‘as live’ implying that people having cable TV would get live feed on New and those watching DD’s terrestrial channel will come to know of the event / outcome 15 minutes later.
Sources close to the situation, who informed that Nimbus’ Digvijay Singh and Prasar Bharati CEO, B S Lalli had held four rounds of negotiations over the past two days to finalise the agreement, added that this proposal was rejected by Lalli citing that pubcaster Prasar Bharati could not divide citizens of the country into two categories.
Also, according to sources, Nimbus didn’t want DD DTH to be included. But guidelines cover the DTH medium as well. A meeting was also held at the I&B Ministry in which representatives of BCCI, Prasar Bharati and Nimbus participated. It is understood that adherence to guidelines was emphasised.
Some market realities here are that this is the fourth quarter of the financial year, advertisers have committed money on World Cup, KBC launches on January 22 and key players are not participating in the forthcoming tournament making it a B-class event.
Also, despite downlinking Guidelines being in force for over one year now, the compliance by the private TV channels has not be wholehearted. It is also understood that the government is planning to bring a Bill – Broadcasting of Sports Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Bill – soon.