No telecast of Sachin match on DD: Prasar Bharati seeks rules amendment

New Delhi: With Doordarshan missing out the telecast of cricket great Sachin Tendulkar`s last two tests due to present rules of coverage, Prasar Bharati has written to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry seeking immediate amendment of these for the benefit of fans.

In a communication to the ministry, Prasar Bharati has sought amendment of the Sports Broadcasting Act, 2007 so that such telecasts don`t bleed the national broadcaster.

In a letter written to I&B Ministry Additional Secretary J S Mathur, Prasar Bharati`s Member (Finance) B B Pandit said that the decision to telecast only three one day matches of the India-West Indies series was guided both by the "legal position" and the huge revenue loss that would have to be incurred if the test matches were also covered.

"I also wish to point out that the ironical situation whereby we are deprived of the privilege of telecasting the last match of India`s greatest sporting icons has arisen because of the provisions of the Sports Broadcast Act, 2007 which is injurious to the financial health of the Prasar Bharati...," Pandit said in his letter.

He added that his earlier communications on the subject too established the need to amend the Act.

Officials said that according to the Sports Broadcasting Act, the national broadcaster covers only those sporting events which are of national importance. This does not include Test matches unless they are considered to be of high public interest by the government.

In his letter, Prasar Bharati`s member (finance) said that as per Doordarshan`s estimates, the net loss for telecasting Test matches live would have been to the tune of Rs 9.25 crore, which it can ill afford.

He said that the opportunity cost of telecasting the event would be Rs 10 crore as against which the ad revenue would be Rs 1 crore. And Rs 9.25 crore would have to be handed over to the broadcasting rights holder.

Sources said that the I&B ministry had initially expressed interest regarding telecast of Tendulkar`s last matches on Doordarshan.

A senior official in the I&B ministry said that initially it was keen that the last test match being played by the legendary batman should have been telecast live for the benefit of public at large but it could not be done after issues related to the financial loss involved were raised.

"The ministry has now asked Prasar Bharati as well as the sports ministry to review the provisions of the act so that appropriate action can be taken," the official added.

Sources in the Prasar Bharati said that since the coming into force of the Sports Broadcasting Act, Doordarshan had been telecasting sporting events on its DD National terrestrial network as well as DTH networks.

Officials said that owing to the high opportunity cost, Doordarshan had suffered substantial loss in the coverage of 18 such events till November 2012.

"We have in the past sought an amendment under which a certain clause - which mandates that Doordarshan carries the sporting event on its terrestrial network and DTH would be replaced by another clause which allows telecast on free to air platforms available on various platforms," a source said.

He explained that the amendment was a workable solution as it would allow viewers to see the sporting event without subscribing to pay channels while Prasar Bharati would have the flexibility to choose the channel on which the events are shown.