Millions of Indian cricket fans, it seems, will be deprived of the live telecast or radio broadcast of the India-Pakistan Test series.
Prasar Bharati today agreed before the Supreme Court that it would share only the 90-minute highlights of the matches per day with Ten Sports, which has the exclusive rights to the telecast the series. The issue of one-day internationals will be taken up separately.
Thus, the Test series will be available only on Ten Sports, which is available only through cables and satellites. Of India’s 100 million homes with TV, at least one-third receive only Doordarshan’s terrestrial telecast.
Sources said Prasar Bharati, which controls Doordarshan and All India Radio, might also have to do without the radio rights, which are with Dubai-based ARY Gold.
It seems ARY demanded $200,000 for the rights, while Doordarshan’s offer did not go beyond $80,000. The last time India visited Pakistan, in 2004, Prasar Bharti had fought tooth and nail in court for the rights.
However, today Solicitor-General GE Vahanvati said Prasar Bharati would not be able to pay Rs 25 crore, as suggested by the court, and take the signals for the live telecast along with the advertisements.
Vahanvati also said the government would not insist on Ten Sports complying with policy guidelines making it mandatory for television channels to share telecast with Doordarshan.
Regarding the one-day matches, a workable solution would be discussed in due course, a Bench consisting of Justice Ashik Bhan and Justice Tarun Chatterjee was informed by the counsel of both the sides.
The Bench issued notice to the Centre and Prasar Bharti on a petition by Ten Sports seeking a stay on the government guidelines which made it mandatory for private channels to share live feed of “events of national importance” with Doordarshan.
The next date of hearing has been fixed for January 30. The battle for the one-day international rights is likely to be much fiercer. For one, Ten Sports does not want to share it, saying it had paid for rights to cricket in Pakistan based on the assumption of exclusivity.
Secondly, the government’s policy mandating sharing of the feed with Prasar Bharti on the basis of 75:25 revenue split, takes into account advertising money only, not distribution.