Zee Sports on Thursday said that it did not have any problem in sharing the sports content with national broadcaster Doordarshan. “This has been a commercial practice for around two to three years. The government has only legalised the practice. The Asia Cup, 2004 series was also shared with Doordarshan without any problem, I don’t know why so much hue and cry is being made now out of this whole issue. We don’t have any problem in sharing sports content with Doordarshan,” said Himanshu Mody, Business Head, Zee Sports on the sidelines of a conference announcing ONGC as the title sponsor for the National Football League starting from January 10, 2006.
The channel has won the 10-year contract to telecast and market all domestic and international matches played by India during this period.
It may be recalled here that private sports broadcasters Ten Sports and ESPN-STAR Sports are fighting cases in the courts against the new provision in the downlinking policy for mandatory sharing of sports content of national importance with Doordarshan.
When asked if it would amount to financial loss to the bid owner, Mody said, “The question of loss does not arise as it is usually being factored out while bidding.”
Speaking with exchange4media, Mody said that Zee Sports had made revenues of around Rs 15 crore to Rs 18 crore on the recently concluded India-Sri Lanka Test series. “This does not include the distribution revenue from the cable operators. We are a start-up at present and are aiming to break even within a two-year period of time,” he added. The channel had won the cricketing rights for the series for around Rs 19.5 crore.
I&B Minister and President of the All India Football Federation, Priyaranjan Dasmunshi, who was present on the occasion, said, “Zee Sports has added a new dimension to Indian soccer. With the matches of NFL being played under floodlights, combined with world class telecast. It will provide unique television viewing experience to audiences.”
He also told the media in his capacity of I&B Minister that Doordarshan would telecast some of the matches live for the benefit of terrestrial viewers without specifying the number of matches. “I will meet the Prasar Bharati CEO and then the number of matches to be telecast will be decided.”
Speaking on the occasion, Mody said, “We have put in lot of hard work to present Indian football in a high quality format at viewer friendly times with in depth analysis. To promote NFL across the country we are undertaking a marketing campaign, which involve all the three elements – on air, off air and online.”
Out of the total 90 matches, Zee Sports will telecast around 45 matches of the ONGC Cup NFL live and exclusive along with highlight shows, Football Café, news and features. The series will also be available on Dish TV with regional commentary.