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Indian sports broadcasters facing up to potential revenue blow

Indian sports broadcasters could suffer a substantial loss on their subscription revenues if the government pushes through reforms to laws governing the broadcast of events deemed to be of national importance.

India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is currently considering whether to approve the amendment of the Sports Act 2007 to allow events such as India cricket matches, the Olympic Games, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games to be broadcast via private direct to home (DTH) and cable TV platforms.

The law currently specifies that sporting events of national importance can only be carried on public-service broadcaster Doordarshan’s terrestrial and free-to-air DTH platform Free Dish. A ruling from August 2017 prevented private DTH and cable platforms from offering the DD National channel when it is carrying a sporting event of national importance.

The MIB is currently proposing that legislation be amended so that private distribution platforms will be able to carry Doordarshan channels, even when they are offering events of national importance.

Srivathsan AR, a senior analyst at Media Partners Asia, told the Television Post website that such a change would grant further power to private distribution platforms in talks with sports broadcasters who hold rights to major events. He added that sports broadcasters could face a 10 to 15 per cent reduction on subscription revenue.