Having failed to get Nimbus Sports to share its live telecast of the upcoming India-Pakistan Test series, the government has issued a notification declaring that under the law the entire Test series be compulsorily shared with public broadcaster Doordarshan.
"Despite several communiqués sent to Nimbus to come and negotiate during past one month, Prasar Bharati did not get any response from the sportscaster," a senior Information and Broadcasting ministry official said.
The five ODIs (One-Day Internationals) and three-Test series between India and Pakistan are just a week away. The first one-dayer starts in Guwahati on November 5.
"We sent several invitations to Nimbus to discuss the sharing of live feed and marketing of the Test series. Now only few days are left and they have not shown up," the official said.
"It seems they are interested in delaying it as much as possible," the official added.
Earlier this month, the I&B ministry had issued notification declaring all official one-dayers and Twenty-20 matches as of high public interest.
Any sporting event declared of high public importance has to be compulsorily shared under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007. Failure to comply could lead to fine or even taking the channel off air.
The latest notification has termed the upcoming Test series also a "sporting event of national importance", thus bringing its telecast under the ambit of the law.
The ministry official also claimed that Nimbus is marketing the Test matches to advertisers in the name of Doordarshan (DD).
"At the same time they are keeping us out. DD's TRP (a measure of popularity) is somewhere around 6.7 whereas Neo Sports' is less than 2.0," he claimed.
Nimbus, on its part, said that it is waiting for Prasar Bharati to respond to their proposed contract.
"We have sent a draft contract on the feed sharing and are waiting for their response," a Nimbus spokesperson said.
Regardless of who markets the series, the advertisement revenue sharing under Act will be in 75:25 ratio between the rights holder Nimbus and free carrier DD.
The latest stand-off between Prasar Bharati (which controls Doordarshan) and Nimbus is another in the series of a running battle between the two over sharing of live feed.
Prasar Bharati cites high public interest as the overriding factor for free telecast of matches to the common man.
Nimbus has resisted the free live feed of matches on grounds that it paid several hundred crores of rupees to buy the rights of telecast for its channel, Neo Sports.
The sportscaster has also resisted the free feed on the ground that DD has not encrypted its signal, which results in piracy by several local and across-the-border TV network operators.