In a development of sorts, Ten Sports has rejected Doordarshan’s contention on the issue of simulcast of the upcoming Triangular Cricket Series involving India, Sri Lanka and West Indies, to be played in Sri Lanka.
In its letter to Ten Sports, dated July 23, 2005, DD had proposed that in the larger interest of the Indian public as well as for the furtherance of the game of cricket, Ten Sports should provide signal of the Tri-Series to Doordarshan for live telecast.
In response to that letter by DD’s Director-General Navin Kumar, Chris McDonald, CEO, Taj Television Ltd (Ten Sports), claimed that Ten Sports would “not garner additional airtime revenue” as argued by DD. He also said that DD was “completely incorrect on incremental declarations”.
Reacting strongly to the statement by the Doordarshan Director-General that Ten Sports did not lose anything by the telecast of the Indo-Pak matches by DD but had in fact earned ad revenues, McDonald said that viewership would be fragmented by a simulcast.
“Ten Sports’ ratings during the Indo-Pak 2004 Series would have been higher had it been exclusive. We suffered tremendous loss in the series because of the simulcast and did not benefit in any way. DD’s free-to-air signal ensures we will collect next to nothing from cable operators,” he asserted.
McDonald maintained, “As we and other broadcasters bid intensively for rights, we have every right to leverage them as has been the legal practice for a decade.” He has written to Kumar saying, “If you were so interested in the rights for Indian cricket overseas, then you should bid along with one or more of the private bidders on a pre-agreed basis. Your attempted interference at the last minute in our rights and investments is grossly unfair and high handed.”
He further said that Ten Sports did not gain from DD’s additional reach since there were but a few days left and most of the inventory was sold. “It is not technically possible to sell ads via the LPTs. The highlights will secure additional revenues for you at no risk. We are not hoarding rights. We cannot share in the way you have proposed, as it would be financially disastrous,” insisted McDonald.
The whole tiff between DD and Ten Sports started when the latter made an offer to DD stating that they were willing to share their rights with DD for telecast in only terrestrial homes. With only three days left for the Lankan Tri-Series to commence, it will be interesting to see the scoreboard of public versus private broadcasters.
“We are fully conscious of the interests of the Indian public and our solution takes this into account. Your delay in responding favourably to our offer is, in fact, endangering the success of this optimal solution,” the Ten Sports CEO maintained. He also requested Prasar Bharati to refrain from interfering with contractual rights and to accept Taj Television’s fair and balanced proposal.