As Sourav Ganguly scripted a spectacular comeback into the one-day side and gave India a winning start in the final lap before the World Cup, 50 million cricket fans broke with tradition and did not sit glued to TV sets.
Neo Sports, the only channel broadcasting the match, was not available in many parts of the country, including large areas of Delhi. And unless a deal is struck soon — or the government arm-twists Neo into sharing feed — many fans could miss the other matches of the series as well.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister described Neo’s refusal to share feed with Doordarshan as “unpatriotic”.
“I am sorry to say this but this is the most unpatriotic attitude of the company. We can’t allow them to plunder in India and take all the money. We will take steps to ensure that the people of India are not deprived,” PTI quoted Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi as saying.
Dasmunsi intends to go to the Cabinet this week with a draft law to force private broadcasters to share signals with Doordarshan. DD not telecasting the matches means vast swathes of India that are not covered by cable TV remain deprived.
Nimbus, Neo’s owner, and the company that has bought telecast rights for all BCCI games in India till 2010 for a whopping $612 million, said patriotism had nothing to do with business.
“It is not a question of patriotism but simple commercial principles and infringing on the rights of licensees… Where does patriotism come in?” Nimbus boss Harish Thawani told HT.
“Doordarshan becomes patriotic only when a commercially lucrative event comes. Else, why is it not showing Sania Mirza and Leander Paes playing at the Australian Open?”