Sports Minister flays DD Jr Asia Cup snub

With the ongoing Jr Asia Cup hockey tournament going largely unnoticed, a miffed Sports Minister MS Gill lashed out at Doordarshan for ignoring the event.

updated: July 20, 2008 11:38 IST
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New Delhi:

With the ongoing Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament going largely unnoticed, a miffed Sports Minister MS Gill on Thursday lashed out at the public broadcaster Doordarshan for ignoring the event, while lamenting that the private channels too have got their priorities wrong.

Gill said though a large number of public wanted to see the ongoing eight-nation tournament in Hyderabad, Doordarshan hardly sounded interested because "it would not fill their coffers".

"I'm sorry to say that Doordarshan is not showing the tournament. I tried to resolve it but apparently failed because they wanted to make money out of it," a dejected Gill said in an interview on Thursday.

Reminding Doordarshan of its duties as the public broadcaster to telecast events of national interest, Gill said, "I certainly see the duty which DD should be discharging for Indian sports. They should not always be thinking of earning and earning, there is a limit to it."

Gill was equally upset with the private channels for largely ignoring the event.

"I was very disappointed with what I saw last night in the major bulletins. There was this hard-fought match between India and Pakistan, which India won 3-1. But what did I find? The first story was about Sania Mirza losing in straight sets to a junior girl in Stanford in a minor tournament. Second story was Ronaldinho leaving Barcelona for AC Milan for 30 million dollar perhaps. I want to ask what is the relevance of this news in a country where footballers don't get their TA-DA in Santosh Trophy?

"I can't even imagine $30 million and don't know how Ronaldinho switching club is such a news of importance," he said.

"The next news was of some relevance although, even though it was not of immediate importance. It was about the boxers' preparation for Beijing Olympics in Patiala. I'm happy for them, they have some great talents and I hope Vijender wins a medal in Beijing.

"But there was not a single line about the Asia Cup semifinal and all I saw was on the ticker below the presenter. I think the whole thing is a shame and it's a sorry business," he said.

"While Sports Ministry, federations and the Indian Olympic Association have a duty, I think TV channels also have a duty," he said.

Gill said it would need a concerted effort to lift hockey's sagging fortunes in the country and everyone has to chip in.

"I can do what I can, I'm determined too. I can try get more astro-turfs, go and see tournaments, meet and encourage every player who is worth anything. I do all that. But if the channels black out these games only because of money, I'm afraid there is a serious problem with us," he added.