The government is tailoring its broadcasting policy to not only get private broadcasters to share their feed of events of national importance with Prasar Bharati, but also ensure that the state broadcaster makes big money in the bargain.
According to the initial proposals being put together by the information and broadcasting ministry, the original right holder will pay Prasar Bharati a bank guarantee based on the importance of the event.
For example, if it is an Indo-Pak cricket series, the bank guarantee will be higher than, say one between India and Holland. The proposed regulator will decide the amount of bank guarantee to be paid by the broadcaster.
Prasar Bharati will also be given a chance to earn advertising revenue, which will be shared with the original right holder. This means, Prasar Bharati can sell advertisement spots as well as get its own sponsors for the event. Prasar Bharati will also have the freedom to develop its own programming content.
The revenue earned by the broadcaster will be shared on a mutually agreed formula, again depending on the importance of the event.
“We are trying to ensure benefits for both the right holder as well as Prasar Bharati. The main issue is whether Prasar Bharati is there as a public service broadcaster or a revenue earner,” said an official.
The official said a regulation to this effect might be included in the proposed broadcasting policy. “A broadcasting law to this effect is immediate. It may be a part of the proposed policy,” he said.
According to him, a similar policy exists in countries like Australia and Pakistan, where telecast feed of events of national importance is shared with the public service broadcaster.
Prasar Bharati first mooted the plan for telecast rights over any event of national importance in 2002 during the ICC Cricket World Cup, when it failed to reach a commercial understanding with SET Max.
It reiterated the demand during its stand-off with Abdul Rehman Bhukhatir’s Ten Sports during the India-Pakistan cricket series earlier this year.
Recently, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) inviting bids for the cricket matches organised in India for the next four years, the Prasar Bharati board had passed a resolution asking the government to come out with a law to this effect.