The Information & Broadcasting Ministry’s Sports Broadcasting Bill, which makes it mandatory for the right-holders to share their live cricket feed with Doordarshan (DD), has started taking a toll.
On Wednesday, Zee walked out of a contract with the BCCI on the telecast of matches played on offshore non-Test venues and Nimbus refused to telecast the Afro-Asia Cup, which starts in Bangalore on June 5.
Clearly, the implications of the new law are starting to be felt — this might spell the beginning of the end of huge price tags for the rights of matches in the subcontinent.
Broadcasters like ESPN-Star (ESS) have supported the sharing of feed, provided DD encrypts its signal for terrestrial viewing; other sports broadcasters, though, have reservations over the 75:25 (tilted in their favour) of the revenue sharing mechanism with DD.
All broadcasters have opposed the sharing of the feed on DD’s DTH service.
“Giving DD 25 per cent of the revenue for just carrying the signal is not fair,” a spokesman for a broadcaster said.
It was precisely on this issue that Nimbus had moved the Delhi High Court against DD during the West Indies and Sri Lanka series just before the World Cup.
The issue of encryption of signal by DD is hanging in the balance, even though the technical committee constituted by the government had said that encryption was possible.
The committee submitted its report to the government in mid April — suggesting eight different technologies — but the ministry is yet to make a final decision.
“We are working on financial and technological implications of encrypting the signal for DD,” a senior ministry official told HT. Incidentally, the ministry had rejected the BCCI’s offer to pay for the encryption.
If DD does encrypt the signal, its viewers would get a clean signal from the broadcaster — then DD stands to make money by filling in the advertisements.
The encryption, though, won’t happen in a hurry — according to I&B Ministry officials, it would still take several months because equipment must be bought for 1,400 terrestrial transmitters of DD to cover entire country.