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September 15, 2000
India's Olympics starts with fiascoNetScribes - Sunil Joshi and Sangeeta Menon
As of 1315 IST today, the world tunes in to the Millenium Games. The greatest show on earth, expected to attract an audience of billions globally.
Everyone will be watching. India will be watching, too -- only, they will be watching song and dance sequences, not the Olympics.
Doordarshan Sports, holder of exclusive telecast rights for the Indian territory, has gone off air. No word, no warning -- just a blank screen.
The problem, apparently, is DD decided to encrypt its signals, in order to cash in on the Games interest among the subscribers to cable services.
In typically haphazard fashion, though, Modi Entertainment Network (MEN), which is the distribution intermediary between DD Sports and the cable operators, has failed to deliver decoder boxes to the cable operators on time. Without these boxes, the signals can't be decoded.
Dinyar Contractor, editor of Satellite Magazine, the industry bible, points out that signals are unavailable throughout the country.
Cable operators in Bombay are clueless. They claim that MEN kept them in the dark about all the happenings in this matter. MEN officials were unavailable for comment.
DD had intended to convert its Sports channel into a pay-channel and was waiting for the right opportunity.
That chance came with the Games. The IOC awarded DD the telecast rights, on the theory that while DD might not be the highest bidder, it could ensure the widest reach.
As it turns out, at the time of writing this, DD's reach is -- zero!
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