Thursday, February 01, 2007


The non availability of NEO SPORTS the new broadcaster for the home matches till 2010 was a dampener on 21st January 2007. Many parts of the urban areas leave aside rural India did not get the channel and the unresolved tiff with Prasar Bharti left a bad taste in the mouth. The absence of AIR from doing radio commentary is something that baffles one and all the the rights are not sold to anyone. However no audio and visual relay of the match meant a dry day for cricket fans on a Sunday.

Electronic Media journalists were kept on their toes with two to three updates in every 30 minute news cycle.

People in Nagpur left their homes and flocked to the stadium to catch updates of the match. Policemen on duty failed to understand the dispute and walked up to me in the OB van and wanted an explaination why Doordarshan in snot telecasting the matches. I was covering the event for the national broadcaster DD News and people gathered around me and wanted an explanation. I tried to make the large crowd understand but it was not easy. Saurav and Gambhir’s exploits made my position tough. The common man was left high and dry and he wanted an answer. They got a big group and stood behind me in the live bulletin. They started shouting editable statements against the BCCI Chief and the private broadcaster. The matter got out of hand but needed to walk the tight rope with a smile as the BCCI chief is an also a cabinet minister and a part of the UPA in the centre.

Someone had to be blamed for the mess and as West Indies came out to bat the board secretary Niranjan Shah and BCCI Vice President Shashank Manohar also the President of the Vidharbha Cricket Association stormed into the press box and warned that NIMBUS is going to file a petition in Supreme court. What for…was the big question? They explained that Prasar Bharthi is not ready to co-operate and wanted more share of the pie in terms of revenue. The truth was that as per the old revenue sharing principle the 75:25 offer was rejected and NIMBUSwanted Prasar Bharti to telecast the matches 15 minutes defeered live. The first rule was not agreeable to Prasar Bharti while the second was backspaced by NIMBUS. The broadcaster’s spokesperson or the office of the channel was not issuing any statements. However the two wise men, two BCCI officials trying to enlighten the press on the next move of the broadcaster. Funny but’s transperancy for you. We got immediate response from the Prasar Bharti office as they came out with the truth and BCCI was on the defensive. The two officials had a hasty retreat as the TV crews came running like bees to their hive for quotes. The matter was not dead and buried as mounting pressure on the private player pushed them into issuing statements and counter statements on a holiday.

In the end, the private player budged and agreed to come with a fresh proposal to Prasar Bharti. The battle is won but the big war only gets over when viewers across India get to enjoy the next seven matches without a glitch and the new channel can breathe easy as they down to standarise their distribution network.


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