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    Creative Commons License
    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    March 10, 2004


    Viewers in most parts of India have been deprived of the sports channel Ten Sports for around a couple of weeks now. Ten Sports claims that the cable operators have been massively under-declaring their revenues and subscriber base. The TV channel wants the cable operators to provide an advance fee for the next 6 months and show a 500% increase in subscriber numbers. This issue of subscriber numbers being under-declared by the cable operators has been around ever since the cable TV revolution started in India in the early 1990s. TV channels accuse the service operators of cheating them by showing a miniscule number of subscribers, while the cable operators say that the TV channels' claims of the viewership is grossly over-rated. Who gets caught in the shooting? The viewer, like you and me, who has paid up his monthly subscription to the cable operator and yet can't see all the channels he pays for.

    The issue gets complicated when the cable operator tells you that Ten Sports is raising its charges, when it actually isn't. The cable operator tries to get you to pay up an extra 10 bucks or so and he passes that money on (after ensuring his profit margin) to the TV channel and claims to show an increase in revenue and subscriber base. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, in a judgement in January, announced that cable rates paid by the subscribers would be fixed as the rate on 26 Dec 2003. Since the amount you pay to the cable operator trickles all the way upto the TV channel, this ruling effectively means that the channel cannot increase its rates and neither can the cable operator indicate that there is a price hike.

    My gut feeling is that everyone (the operators, the MSOs and the TV channels) will ask for their pound of flesh and will come to a satisfactory understanding just before the series starts (or shortly after). Whose flesh will it be? The viewers', obviously!

    In a related issue, Prasar Bharati has been trying to coax Ten Sports into giving it the rights for terrestrial telecast of the India-Pakistan series in India. Obviously Ten Sports has rejected the issue outright, claiming that it was an entirely commercial issue, wherein Prasar Bharati did not even participate in the bidding process when the rights for cricket telecasts in Pakistan were being sold. The central government has also tried to have a say in the issue by accusing Ten Sports that it wasn't interested in India-Pakistan relations because it refused to negotiate over the telecast rights.
    To me, this is totally ridiculous. Why bring in Indo-Pak relations into the issue? Prasar Bharati didn't bother to bid for the rights. Hence they don't get to telecast live the games in India. As simple as that. One of the petitions against Ten Sports even brings in the fundamental right to entertainment. Last I checked, the Indian Constitution provided for nothing of that sort.


    I forgot to mention it here, but the face of the Mandal Commission report demonstrations, Rajeev Goswami, died in Delhi on February 24th. Rajeev Goswami's attempt at self-immolation sometime in August (?) 1989, was in protest against the VP Singh government’s decision to revive the recommendations of the Mandal Commission, which had suggested 27 per cent quota for backward classes. Chandan Mitra, the editor of 'The Pioneer' on why India forgot a hero.

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