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Money comes between cricket and lovers

At the heart of the row between Nimbus and the government lies money, report Ravi Bajpai and Aloke Tikku.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 14:07 IST

Neither cable operators nor direct-to-home (DTH) service providers were able to telecast the Neo Sports feed as first Sourav Ganguly, and then Shivnarine Chanderpaul, set the VCA Stadium on fire on Sunday.

The channel was only available in some households with pre-activated set-top boxes (STBs) in the conditional access system (CAS)-notified areas of Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.

“But even this luxury is short lived,” said Sunil Punj of Hathway (Win Cable). “Neo Sports will be available only till this month-end. After that, viewers will have to pay monthly subscription fees to be able to view the channel.”

DTH service providers — Tata Sky, Dish TV and Doordarshan — too couldn’t telecast the match. There was no commentary on AIR either.

At the heart of the row between Nimbus, the company that owns Neo, and the government lies money. Industry sources estimate advertising revenues from sport — mainly cricket — to be between $75 million and $150 million.

Nimbus said all it was asking of Doordarshan was to encrypt the signals. According to Harish Thawani, chairman of Nimbus, DD sends an unencrypted signal that goes into multiple territories and invades rights of licensees in other countries that could lie anywhere from the Middle East to Malaysia.

“We are willing to share the signals to DD to transmit nationally if they are encrypted. The ball is in their court,” Thawani said. He said that the company had even offered to share signals for the India-West Indies series if DD gave a commitment to encrypt the signals.