DD has no original content, no team, no production quality, and now they are finding ways to avoid sharing revenue, complains sports channel

Prasar Bharati’s new “minimum effort, maximum reward” strategy may not be a sustainable revenue model, but the national broadcaster claims it has “beaten the private broadcasters at their own game”.

According to Doordarshan officials, Television Rating Points (TRPs) showed Champions Trophy matches enjoyed the highest viewership. And the “trick”, it says, was simple. After years, Indian viewers could watch “advertisement-free” cricket matches.

But the decision to show ad-free matches was driven by a set of complex corporate calculations, as The Hindu has now learnt. In a letter to the Secretary of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar has explained the circumstances.

The 2007 Sports Broadcasting Act compels all channels to share “live signals of sporting events of national importance” with DD, without “pre-inserted ads”. ESPN Star Sports, which is in the process of becoming a part of Star India, however, said it would provide live signals to DD with embedded ads. DD refused to play ball, and the case went to court, which told ESPN to provide live signals without ads.

But since ESPN had not intimated DD about the tournament schedule 45 days in advance as mandated, DD says it was left with no time to “procure special ads”.

DD could have shown its “pre-existing ads”, but it would have had to share 75 per cent of the ad revenue with the channel which provided the feed, as per the Act. This, PB felt, was “unfair”.

It was then that PB “took a call” to show ad-free matches.

A PB source told The Hindu : “With this, we have conveyed several messages to rivals. The first is not to mess around with us and take us to court, thinking we will back down. The second is not to try tricks like putting in embedded ads, which would fetch them revenue, and force it on us. The third is if you think our pre-existing ad bookings are reserved for you, you are mistaken. And the fourth, is we are bigger.”

  • Champions Trophy cricket matches enjoyed highest viewership becuase no ads were run

  • Not accepting ESPN's embeded ad coverage offer, DD claimed it had no time to procure special ads