In a new controversy on cricket telecasting, Nimbus Communications - the cricket rights holder for India - has been charged with supplying an 'inferior' feed to Doordarshan compared to the signal supplied to it own pay channel, Neo Sports.
In a letter addressed to the CEO of Prasar Bharti, ASC Enterprises - promoters of Dish TV - has said that a 24-camera feed that covers all aspects of the live, on-ground cricket action was being supplied to all those who had subscribed to the Neo Sports channel including MSOs, cable operators as well as Tata Sky.
At the same time, the feed provided to Doordarshan was only a 15-camera feed for transmission on DD1.
"The crucial additional 8-9 camera feed in fact captures the real action on the field which is being deprived to DD1 viewers," the written complaint says.
The Delhi High Court recently directed Neo Sports to share its feed with DD in the interest of reaching the West Indies series to a larger audience.
However, to give some exclusivity to the rights holder Neo Sports, the High Court allowed a 7-minute delay in the signal supplied to DD.
Responding to the complaint, Harish Thawani, chairman of Nimbus, said: "the practice of supplying a 'basic' and 'enhanced' feed has also been there.
A pay channel will naturally get a feed with greater embellishments. If the free channel wants it too, they should pay for it."
In 2003, when Nimbus was producing the signal for Sony, it was an 'enhanced' feed as compared to the one supplied to DD, he added.
The letter to Prasar Bharti from ASC Enterprises alleges that Nimbus has violated the Downlinking Guidelines that provides "not only for the sharing of the live feed but also sharing of 'same' feed."
The aim is to create the perception that the quality of cricket telecast transmitted on Doordarshan is sub-standard so as to "force the viewers to switch from DD1 channel to 'Neo Sports' channel.
Prasar Bharti officials said they were acting on the complaint. "We will inform the court about the poor quality feed. There was no wagon wheel or 'hawk eye' for DD viewers. We were treated like second grade citizens," commented a senior Prasar Bharti official.
Dish TV seems to have been irked by STAR having sold Neo Sports distribution exclusively to sister DTH platform Tata Sky excluding competitor Dish TV in the process, industry sources said. STAR has the distribution rights for the Neo Sports channel.