`Prohibitive cost' keeps live telecast out

NEW DELHI, JULY 6. Doordarshan did not go for the live telecast of the Wimbledon semifinals because of the ``prohibitive cost''. The same was the reason that stopped ESPN-STAR Sports from extending its live telecast schedule beyond the quarterfinal stage.

The viewers were taken by surprise on Thursday when there was no live telecast of the women's singles semifinals. The disappointment continued through to Friday when the men's semifinal matches were played. There is no hope either for the finals being shown live.

In recent years, ESPN-STAR Sports used to telecast the Wimbledon championships live up to the quarterfinal stage and then DD used to take over to see the tournament through. Normally, DD used to obtain the final stage rights for India through the Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU).

This time, however, the ABU did not bid for the rights, unable to compete at the level at which the stakes had been raised. And Doordarshan found that the fee was ``exorbitant''. No one would disclose the amount involved. ``Our resources didn't permit us to go in for such an expenditure,'' said a DD official on Friday. ``The cost runs into crores,'' the official explained.

``It didn't make commercial sense for us to go for the entire championships,'' said a spokesman of ESPN-STAR Sports. ``If we would have purchased the rights till the end the cost would have been more than double that we paid for the coverage up to quarterfinals,'' he added.