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Doordarshan Yorks Espn For World Cup Telecast Rights

Anjan Mitra  |  BSCAL 

Doordarshan is set to queer the pitch for sports channel ESPN, which has shelled out $12 million for the Asian telecast rights of the 1999 cricket World Cup.

Doordarshan is believed to have communicated to hosts and telecast rights holder, the England and Wales Cricket Board (EWCB), that it will settle for nothing less than exclusive telecast rights.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has been told that Doordarshan will make an offer bid only after the England and Wales Cricket Board finds out a way through which matches telecast on Doordarshan enjoy some degree of exclusivity, said sources in Mandi House.

ESPN, on its part, had made a friendly offer to Doordarshan some time ago wherein the telecast rights could be shared between the two and the matches simultaneously aired on Doordarshan and ESPN.

However, Mandi House is believed to have turned down the offer.

Doordarshan also thought it fit to approach the host countrys cricket board directly in this matter.

ESPN officials were not available for comments.

Spurning an arrangement with ESPN, Mandi House has instead contended that Doordarshan , with a 70 per cent penetration in the country, outstrips the reach of any other broadcaster, and airing the World Cup matches on the terrestrial broadcaster would make more business sense in a cricket crazy nation like India.

Though nothing has been put in writing, Doordarshan has reportedly orally communicated to the England and Wales Cricket Board that it is in a position to better ESPNs $12 million bid if the board manages to work out some kind of an exclusive deal for Doordarshan.

Though Mandi House has hinted that ESPNs reach of about six million cable TV homes is far less than that of Doordarshans, media analysts, however, aver that the sports channel reaches out to more cable TV homes than credited by its rivals.

The England and Wales Cricket Board recently sent its marketing director, Terry Blake, to India sometime back to hold discussions with Doordarshans chief executive S S Gill, and other officials on the issue of telecast rights.

However, the exorbitant cost of exclusive telecast rights may be just enough to daunt Doordarshan into settling for exclusive telecast rights of all matches involving India, and maybe the final.

For the rest of the matches we can probably opt for simultaneous telecast with ESPN, the sources said.

Doordarshans stridency in the matter comes at a time when a consortium of four companies have agreed to market in Indian and abroad, all exclusive sporting events for which Doordarshan will be the carrier, even while putting in bid money on behalf of Doordarshan as part of a post-marketing revenue sharing agreement.

The marketing consortium includes Delhi-based Stracon, Mumbai-based Creative Eye, Nimbus Communications and UTV.

First Published: Sat, March 28 1998. 00:00 IST