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Leave sports broadcasting to professionals

Filed under: Sports by Hari
Posted on Thu, Mar 2, 2006 at 18:35 IST (last updated: Sun, May 24, 2009 @ 19:19 IST)

The current England-India Test series is being produced by Nimbus Sports. To add to your viewing pleasure, it's shown live on Sahara One and DD National. Oh Joy!

This has got to be one of the worst combinations you can get as a Cricket fan living in India. A half-baked, half-professional production company churning out mediocre quality video and a crappy, third-rate, wannabe Bollywood Entertainment channel which 99% of the population wouldn't watch before and after this series bagging the rights to the telecast. And what is the first thing Sahara does? It cynically blacks out their telecast making Sahara One a pay network. And so we're condemned to the mercies of Doordarshan, India's notorious national broadcaster.

What really irritates me is that as viewers, we pay for the best Sports networks: Star, ESPN, Ten Sports and the rest. But good old BCCI has got to deny us good quality, professional broadcasting by selling the rights to the highest bidder. Oh, no, it doesn't matter whether this production company is in any way qualified to produce the pictures or not, they get it if they quote the highest bid. Makes me wonder. If tomorrow Cartoon Network successfully bid for the rights of an important Cricket series, I wonder whether we'd hear Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny doing the commentary. Ridiculous. The BCCI which is already making crores of rupees should really be able to pick and choose the correct people to produce and telecast their events. Instead, by selling the rights to the highest bidder, no matter what their qualification, they have shown themselves for what they truly are: a bunch of money-hungry politicians looking to make a quick buck for themselves and to hell with the game!

I really don't mind new players in the Sports arena. We definitely need competition. But then, are Sahara really going to launch a new sports channel? I highly doubt it. They got the rights by paying hefty sums of money and will naturally look to make the most of it by earning as much as they can within the period. There is no hint of professionalism, vision or commitment. Compare the telecast of the current series to the production of a real Sports broadcaster like Ten Sports and ARY for the India-Pakistan series.

Video quality? Superb. Quality of commentary? Great. Overall production? Excellent. Pre and post-match analysis? Professional and in-depth.

By contrast, if you watch DD National, you get "Fourth Umpire" - as bad as you can ever get. The pompous, opinionated Charu Sharma who interrupts speakers at every given opportunity, the rustic Krish Srikkanth who keeps disagreeing with his "dear" viewers and colleagues all the time, the inane Atul Wassan who mixes Hindi and English making sure neither Hindi nor English viewers understand a thing he says and the boring Mohinder Amarnath who likes singing Hindi songs more than actually analysing the play. With these four gentlemen sitting in the studio, you get treated to some excellent cacophony. Thankfully at least they seem to be improving since the first time they got together.

Forget the pre-match and post-match analysis. At least I want to watch the game in peace! What does Doordarshan do? Barge in with their "special" Hindi commentary team every half hour and really ruin the atmosphere of watching a live match with grating monotonous commentary. One moment you might be listening to some thoughtful, insightful analysis by a suave Nasser Hussein and the next moment he's rudely cut off by two sleepy Hindi commentators whose names you don't know and wouldn't care to know either.

Cricket telecast is not just about showing live pictures. Modern audiences who pay heavy sums of money to get the best sports channels deserve better than this. We are used to watching professional broadcasts, polished commentary, smooth videos and in-depth pre and post-match analysis by experts. When we pay so much money to view channels which do a professional job of telecasting Cricket, the BCCI with their cynical outlook choose to go to the highest bidder regardless of their qualifications to produce a professional live telecast. In the end, it's the paying viewers and lovers of Cricket who are getting ripped off. There is absolutely no excuse for the BCCI who choose to run the game like typical politicians and not like lovers of the game.

By all means allow the National broadcasters to share the feed (this is mandatory by Law). But at least let a professional company produce the pictures and present the telecast. It's the least they can do to millions of Cricket fans across the nation.

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