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Law for mandatory terrestrial telecast rights for DD on the anvil

10-June-2002
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Law for mandatory terrestrial telecast rights for DD on the anvil

After the ICC World Cup Cricket and World Cup Football telecast rights fiasco's, Prasar Bharati board has decided empower itself to get terrestrial rights of major national and international sport events for Doordarshan

Prasar Bharati is approaching the government for enacting a law on the lines of the one already enforced in UK & Australia, enabling the public broadcaster to get broadcast signals of the national and international events (particularly sports) irrespective of who is holding the telecast rights. "We had to take this decision because we have been left out in the race for telecast rights of premier sporting events simply because we cannot pay astronomical amount demanded by the right holder. We cannot deprive non cable viewers from watch this important events", says, K S Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati.

Prasar Bharati has taken this extreme decision in view of the new game plan of telecast right holder to sell terrestrial rights to broadcasters who do not have a terrestrial network. This is precisely what Ten Sports did. After it's talk with Prasar Bharati failed it sold the terrestrial telecast rights of World Cup Football for India to B4U, which in turn negotiated with Prasar Bharati for reselling rights. It is another matter that Prasar Bharati proved to be touch customer and instead of buying the rights it gave Doordarshan platform to B4U for telecasting World Cup Football against fixed telecast fee.

But now Prasar Bharati is faced with the similar situation as WSG Nimbus, which has the Asian telecast rights for ITC cricket matches, is quietly passing on terrestrial rights to Sony Television following a stand off with Prasar Bharati. Sony Television has reportedly acquired terrestrial telecast rights for 90 million US$. "How can the terrestrial rights be sold to those companies or broadcasters who do not have a terrestrial network" questions Sarma.

According to Sarma, Nimbus had first opened negotiations with Prasar Bharati for selling telecast rights. However the standoff occurred as the offer of 90 million US$ by Prasar Bharati was rejected by Nimbus. Now in order to avoid similar fiasco's in future Prasar Bharati is ensuring to put a mandatory terrestrial rights clause in the proposed Convergence Bill. Says Sarma "We will help government chalk out the key national and international sporting events like Olympics, Asian Games, BCCI and World Cup Cricket matches were India is involved. It will be made mandatory for telecast right holders of these events to provide broadcast signals to Doordarshan for terrestrial telecast on revenue sharing basis.

But before the Convergence Bill comes into force Prasar Bharati is seeking government intervention to make interim provision of providing mandatory terrestrial telecast rights to Prasar Bharati.

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