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Sight Screen

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Highway robbery?

Whenever I see words and phrases like 'patriotism', 'national interest' et cetera, I cringe.
Not because I don't believe in these concepts, but because inevitably, when some public body or person uses them, it signals that what follows is anything but.
Case in point, Prasar Bharti filing a PIL suggesting that Ten Sports should share with it, free of cost, the feed for the India-Sri Lanka-West Indies tri-series.
Excuse me, but why? If Prasar Bharti wanted the rights, it should have bid for it -- instead of waiting till someone else did, and then trying to hijack the feed, at no cost to itself.
Robbery cannot be condoned simply because it is government sanctioned. Oh, and by the way -- do you see any mention of PB's willingness to share, with TenSports, the revenues it will generate from advertisements? No? Thought so.
BTW, this is the same PB that, during the India-Pakistan series, sent notice of intent to sue ESPN/Star and others, because it was using highlights clips on its cricket programs. For instance, Star/ESPN would have one of those programs where, at the end of the day's play, a panel would discuss the events of the day. At appropriate points, little clips of the action would be shown, to highlight the points being made.
PB cried foul, suggesting that the use of such clips in commercial programming (where there was advertising revenue to be made, as opposed to news capsules) cut into its own interests, and asked the broadcasters (ESPN/Star was not the only one; pretty much every channel worth its airtime had similar programs, mostly of dubious quality but hey) to cease.
PB obviously believes that it *is* possible to have your cake, eat it, *and* take sizeable chunks out of the other bloke's cake too.
Filing PILs of this kind at the last minute is robbery -- right, that word again, since no other will suffice -- at gunpoint; it certainly is not 'public interest' litigation because, as far as I am aware, the public back home hasn't exactly been spending sleepless nights worrying that PB might not get the rights.
But what is worse is PB's attempt to introduce legislation (relevant stories here) mandating that private sports broadcasters share coverage of exclusive sporting events with Doordarshan. Such legislation is downright unfair (will PB reciprocally share rights to telecast international matches played in India, with private broadcasters?), and blatant misuse of the government's powers.
Hey, India is opening up to private enterprise; the government is looking to disinvest, as much as possible (or as the Left will allow) from public sector undertakings -- in other words, it's a competitive world out there and if DD can't cut it in that environment, tough.
PS: Work calls; see you guys in a couple of hours.

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