Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Cricket lovers — except those with access to Neo Sports — were served a nought on Thursday when they tuned into Doordarshan to watch the opening day’s play of the first India-Australia Test match that began in Bangalore.

Calls to service providers — cable operators and DTH managers — proved futile as it became evident that the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007, does not ensure that every cricket match will be available on Doordarshan.

Though uplinking and downlinking guidelines had earlier been modified to ensure that all cricket matches featuring India would be shown on Doordarshan irrespective of who had the telecast rights, the Act does not specify any game while providing for mandatory sharing but states ‘a sporting event of national importance’ to be decided by the government.

Subsequent to the Act — passed in early 2007 — the government issued a notification in October last declaring all official one-day and Twenty-20 matches played by the Indian men’s cricket team as “sporting event of national importance.” As for Test matches, the notification – dated October 3, 2007 – stated that the Act would be applicable to only those fixtures that are considered to be of “high public interest” by the Central Government.

This notification was followed a fortnight later with another which mandated that the rights owners of the Indo-Pak Test series in November-December 2007 should share signals of the matches with the public broadcaster.