With just three days to go for the start of the India-Pakistan cricket series, the government has closed in on Ten Sports to provide terrestrial broadcasting rights for the series to Doordarshan.
Officials in the information and broadcasting ministry indicated that in case Ten Sports refused to play ball, the government could bring in an Ordinance making it mandatory for the channel to share its feed with Doordarshan. The government has pointed out to Ten Sports that a law gives PTV rights for terrestrial broadcasting within Pakistan.
“Ten Sports should not look at short-term commercial interests. It should keep in mind its long-term interests in the country,” an official said.
In order to avoid such crises in future, the government is considering an Ordinance that will make it mandatory for any channel operating in the country to share feed of events of national interest with the state broadcaster.
The government will list the events or type of events for which private broadcasters will have to share feed. This condition will be brought in either as an Ordinance or as part of the registration agreement for channels operating in India.
A decision is likely to be taken tomorrow after the Madras High Court gives its verdict on a petition filed on the matter.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad today met Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to update him on the developments. Prasar Bharati Chief Executive K S Sarma also met senior PMO officials.
Officials admitted that if the telecast of the series was blacked out, it could damage the image of the ruling National Democratic Alliance government ahead of the general elections starting next month.
The government has been asking Ten Sports to show the upcoming series on its terrestrial network. However, Ten Sports has been resisting it on the grounds that it had to fork out a large sum for acquiring the telecast rights for the series.
Meanwhile, the government has told Ten Sports to increase its tie-ups with as many cable network companies as possible to ensure maximum viewership of the series. Senior officials are seeking regular updates from the sports broadcaster on this matter.