Special Correspondent

Good tidings for cricket lovers

  • Rights holders have to share feed with Doordarshan, AIR
  • Panel to study encrypting feed to DD1

    NEW DELHI: The decks have been cleared for cricket lovers to follow the upcoming India-Sri Lanka series and World Cup matches on All India Radio and Doordarshan, irrespective of which satellite network owns broadcast rights. The Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the promulgation of an ordinance that makes it mandatory for the rights holders of sporting events to share advertisement-free live broadcast signals with all Prasar Bharati platforms on a revenue-sharing basis.

    Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said efforts were under way to make the ordinance effective before February 8, when the India-Sri Lanka series begins.

    The public broadcaster will sell advertising time for these matches and give 75 per cent of the earnings to the rights holder, using the remaining 25 per cent to promote non-sponsored games on radio and TV.

    "The Sports Broadcasting Signals [Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati] Ordinance, 2007" seeks to ensure that sporting events are accessed on radio and DD's national network, which has the maximum reach among television channels in the country by virtue of its being the only terrestrial network. Besides DD1 and AIR's national hook-up, the matches will be available on DD's direct-to-home platform.

    Mr. Dasmunsi got Cabinet permission to set up a committee with experts from the Board of Control for Cricket in India and Prasar Bharati to examine the technical feasibility of encrypting the feed to DD1 so that the signals are not picked up by satellite networks in neighbouring countries.

    "While insisting on Prasar Bharati getting access to these signals, we also need to ensure that companies which have bagged the rights do not lose revenue on account of mandatory sharing," he said.

    A Bill would be introduced in the budget session of Parliament to replace the ordinance that essentially seeks to give legal tooth to the 2005 uplinking and downlinking guidelines providing for mandatory sharing of sports signals with the public broadcaster. Drafted ahead of the winter session, the Bill was considered by the Cabinet on January 4 and thereafter referred back to the Law Ministry to ensure that it conforms to Fundamental Rights, particularly Article 19 of the Constitution.

    The Cabinet asked the I & B Ministry to have another round of discussions with sports bodies such as the BCCIand one such meeting was convened on January 11; just ahead of the recently concluded India-West Indies series which witnessed yet another stand-off and court battle between Prasar Bharati and the rights holder over mandatory sharing.

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