The government on Sunday saw an "unpatriotic attitude" in Nimbus' refusal to share telecast rights of the India-West Indies series in a country and held out the threat of a law to make sports broadcasters fall in line soon.
"I am sorry to say this but this is the most unpatriotic attitude of the company. We cannot 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 Information and broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi saying on Sunday.
Over 50 million TV viewers in non-cable homes and an even higher number of radio listeners missed the action of the match. Many people with cable TVs caught up with the match towards the second half; depending on the speed with which their cable operator moved to get the Nimbus' Neo Sports
Dasmunsi intends to go to the Union Cabinet this week with a draft law to ensure no one gets left out in the future. As reported by HT earlier, the draft law seeks to force private broadcasters to share the signals with the public broadcaster.
But Nimbus, the company that last year won rights of all BCCI matches in India till 2010 for a whopping US $612 million and was the target of Dasmunsi's criticism, said patriotism had nothing to do with differences with Prasar Bharti.
May be, money did. Industry sources estimate advertising revenues of sporting events - largely cricket - to vary between US $75-150 million.
"It is not a question of patriotism but simple commercial principles and infringing on the rights of licensees covered by the footprint DD's satellites… Where does patriotism come in," Harish Thawani, Nimbus chairman, told HT.
Doordarshan becomes patriotic only when a commercially lucrative event comes. Else, he asked, why is it not showing Sania Mirza and Leander Paes playing at the Australian Open?
Nimbus had last year won media rights of BCCI matches in India till March 2010 for US $612 million. Thawani welcomed a "well-considered" law on this issue, saying it would be better than the existing "lawlessness" and the last-minute finger-pointing.
The company said all it was asking of DD was to encrypt the signals. DD sends an unencrypted signal that goes into multiple territories and invades rights of licensees in other countries; anything between the Middle East to Malaysia depending on the satellite.
"We are willing to share the signals to DD to transmit nationally if they are encrypted. The ball is in their court," Thawani said, pointing that the company had even offered to share signals for the India-West Indies series if DD gave a commitment to encrypt the signals.