Even as India is rejoicing her first individual Gold medal at the Olympics, courtesy Abhinav Bindra, trouble is brewing over private news channels airing footage of the Games. Prasar Bharti has sprung a surprise on the news channels and has taken strong objections to these channels using Doordarshan footage of the Olympic Games.
Prasar Bharti has issued letters to private news channels regarding unauthorised use of Olympics footage from Doordarshan, which is reminiscent of the time when private channels were asked to pay up for covering Parliamentary proceedings during the Budget Session in February-March 2008, which were exclusively covered by Lok Sabha TV.
When contacted, Ashok Jailkhani, Deputy Director General – Sports, Doordarshan, said, “We have the sole rights for the telecast of Olympics Games, and if anyone wishes to use the footage, they have to go through the right channels by taking permission or coming to an agreement to use the rights as we have spent a huge amount to buy the rights.”
He further said, “No one has till now reacted to the letter, but we are keeping a close watch on the channels as to who is telecasting what.” The letter states that Prasar Bharti has the sole rights to the Olympic telecast and anyone who wishes to show it on their channel has to go through proper channels by coming to an agreement or pay as per the rate card.
It is an ironic twist as Doordarshan had in 2006 muscled its way, with the backing of the I&B Ministry, by making it mandatory for private TV channels to share with it the public broadcaster live feed of all official One-Day Internationals, Twenty20 ties and some Tests of public interest abroad. The private channels have shelled out huge amounts to bag the telecast rights to all these matches.
When contacted, the CEO of a news channel, on condition of anonymity, said, “The coverage of sports on the news channel is not in any way conflicting the interest of the sports channel, in fact, the coverage only helps build the popularity of the sport as well as the channel.”
When contacted, the spokesperson of NBA (News Broadcasters Association) refused to comment on the issue. It is reliably learnt that news channels are in discussions with each other to come out with a formal response to the demand made by Prasar Bharti.
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