India orders sports feeds to pubcaster

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NEW DELHI -- The Indian Information and Broadcasting Ministry passed an ordinance Thursday that makes it compulsory for private sports broadcasters to share their feeds with Indian pubcaster Doordarshan.

The announcement was made by I&B Minister Priyaranjan Das Munshi, who added that the list of sporting events for which the feeds will be shared will be finalized shortly "in consultation with various sports bodies."

Private broadcasters will have to share their signals with Doordarshan and share revenues in a 75%/25% ratio in favor of the private nets.

The ordinance -- which was considered by a specially organized cabinet committee -- needs to be officially notified, which could happen by Feb. 8 before a major cricket series begins between India and Sri Lanka. The I&B Ministry first issued a list of sporting events last April for which private broadcasters had to share their feeds with Doordarshan.

However, Thursday's announcement now gives this rule more weight as it has been passed as an ordinance awaiting final notification.

In an interview, New Delhi-based ESPN managing director R.C. Venkateish said: "We welcome this ordinance as it will benefit all parties. And we also accept to share advertising revenues with Doordarshan as specified."

This April sees the World Cup Cricket tournament being held in the West Indies for which SET holds exclusive rights. In December, ESPN STAR Sports bagged global broadcast rights to matches of the International Cricket Council for the next eight years, from 2007-2015, for a reported sum of about $1 billion.

Similarly, last year Nimbus -- which owns the NEO Sports channels -- paid about $612 million to the Board of Control for Cricket in India for rights of BCCI events.
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