Thursday, October 27, 2005

The TV rights ruling from GoI

When I was in India, a couple of weeks(or a month) before each important cricket series (and most of it fell i that categories) there was a drama enacted in our tv worlds. The private channel holding the rights for the series (ESPN, SET, Ten anyone) invariably increased their subscription prices for the cable operators. And invariably the cable operators boycotted that channel.

And then started the phase of negotiations, arm-twisting, backdoor transactions etc etc. And the poor public was left wondering, till the last moment, whether we get to see the matches at all, and 'where'? This was especially so in the matches outside India, because for home matches, it was almost a 'rule' which we could rely on, that DD would get the rights (shared or exclusive) any time before the first ball was bowled. And sometimes we had to miss out on these matches because the cable operators could not broker a solution with the channel.

And to imagine that it's the same 'pay' channels, driving us to desperation for that illusive match coverage, who then cram their telecast with sponsorship advertisements in all possible manners, often at the cost of quality of coverage.

So, what's the provocation for this rant, you ask? Well this report today, that ESPN is not happy with the government mandate of sharing the tv feed with Prasar Bharti.

For, was it not for this reason, then most of the channels should not mind the 'sharing' formula mandated by GoI where the channel holding the right gets an 80% cut of the revenue DD generates from its broadcast of those matches. Meaning...those viewers who have both channels would anyway watch the (supposedly) superior private broadcast, and those who have only DD(and the number is huge) would be generating extra revenue for the private channel (via DD)...this immediately shoots up the potential revenue generation customer base of the private channels.

The only downside being that it reduces the scope of the platform from which the private channels can compete with DD for new customer base. Which, I think, is anyway not the main worry for private channels (they, I think, are competing amongst themselves. The range and reach of DD is not exactly intersecting with their target market).

What say?

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