DD bags Indo-Pak series rights

Prasar Bharati outbid its rival Nimbus and grabbed the marketing rights for Doordarshan for entire India-Pak cricket series starting on Monday.

updated: November 05, 2007 14:46 IST
  • Total Shares

New Delhi:

In a surprise move, public broadcaster Prasar Bharati outbid its rival Nimbus and grabbed the marketing rights for Doordarshan for entire India-Pakistan cricket series starting on Monday.

The takeover followed after Nimbus came round to the negotiating table and agreed to provide live telecast to Doordarshan for the series.

The bidding, which started on Friday and concluded on Saturday, took place in sealed envelopes. Prasar Bharati staked Rs 81.25 crore against Rs 75 crore of Nimbus.

Prasar Bharati also acquired the exclusive rights for live radio commentary of the series for which it will pay $10,000 to Nimbus for each of the five One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and three Test matches.

Nimbus had bought the media rights from BCCI for telecast of cricket matches for a whopping sum of $612 million for four years.

So far Nimbus has been marketing DD along with its Neo Sports channel to the advertisers. Having won the bid, now Prasar Bharati will have the revenue management control of the airtime sold to the advertisers.

"Till now, we had no clue of what kind of package deals Nimbus was offering to the advertisers on DD's behalf. Now we will know what were the spot-buy rates and we will sell it at much higher rate," a senior Information and Broadcasting ministry official said.

The ministry sources said Nimbus not only agreed to provide live feed but also was obliged to provide to Doordarshan the best feed it gives to any channel of the cricket series.

Annoyed at the Nimbus's decision to come to the negotiating table just two days before the start of the cricket series, Prasar Bharati officials said it was necessary to take control of the marketing of DD to the advertisers because they had no clue what was happening.

"It was also because DD's TRP stands at 6.7 while Neo Sports is less than 2.0 and Nimbus was doing the entire marketing in DD's name," the officials said.

Having failed to get Nimbus Sports to share live feed, the ministry had also issued notification on October 19 declaring the entire cricket series be compulsorily shared with DD under the law.

Any sporting event declared of high public importance has to be compulsorily shared under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007.

Failure to comply could lead to fine or even taking the channel off air.

However, Nimbus still did not come around and said that it was awaiting response on certain proposal sent to Prasar Bharati. The latter accused Nimbus of deliberate delay for "garnering as many advertisements it can get in the name of DD before start of match."

Nimbus has resisted the free live feed of matches on the ground that it paid several hundred crores of rupees to buy the rights of telecast. It also blames DD for not encrypting its signal, which results in piracy by several local and across-the-border TV network operators.

Prasar Bharati cites "high public interest" as overriding factor for free telecast of matches to the common man through Doordarshan.