This is a first from public broadcaster Prasar Bharati. From being a mute spectator, it’s turning active, to catch private channels showing more than they should. No, this is not about censoring obscenity on TV, but Athens Olympics. The pubcaster and the telecast rights holder to the Olympic Games is in the process of engaging three media organisations, for monitoring private news channels as the “biggest show” unfolds in Athens. These agencies would keep an eye on the news channels, to see that they don’t run more than six minutes of DD Olympics footage in a day, and that no bulletin carries over two minutes of the Games. For reference, they’ll have a rulebook: International Olympic Committee’s manual for news channels.
So far, private broadcasters have often shown Doordarshan’s (controlled by Prasar Bharati) content on their channels quite freely.
According to Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma, Adex (a division of Tam India Research), Centre for Media Studies (CMS), and Asian News International (ANI) would be engaged to monitor Olympics packages across private channels. DD is also planning to sell select highlight packages of the Olympic Games to news channels, Mr Sarma told FE. Even as he admitted that the state broadcaster would make some money from selling content to other channels, he refused to give out any figure, saying “these are early days yet”. Athens Olympics is only 23 days away.
Even as Mr Sarma named three media agencies for monitoring private channels during the Games, an official of Tam India said: “Talks are on with Prasar Bharati, but there’s no final word on the deal yet.” Chairman of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS) Bhaskar Rao told FE: “We haven’t heard from Prasar Bharati yet. But, we’ll monitor the Olympics coverage anyway at our media lab....” According to Mr Sarma, while ANI would monitor the private channels free of cost for DD, Tam would charge Rs 5 lakh for the job and that the deal is being finalised with CMS.
Meanwhile, private channels are yet to sign on the dotted lines for buying the Olympics package from Prasar Bharati. TV Today CEO G Krishnan said: “We have not received any communication yet.” Star News officials said: “Talks are on....” Mr Sarma, however, said letters have been sent out to all channels, along with the IOC rulebook.