The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cable jolt to cricket fans

Jan. 21: Fireworks from the high-scoring match at Nagpur were denied today to most cricket fans across Jharkhand by cable operators on the plea that they could not afford it. Angry subscribers huddled together, giving vent to their frustration and looked for the elusive cable operator for an explanation.

Most of the people across the state had to be content with following the scores given out by news channels and the selective footage shown as part of the news.

“What’s the point of having a cable connection if I cannot watch a cricket match on a Sunday,” exclaimed an anguished A.K. Prasad in Ranchi, while others lamented on missing out on the batting feast.

A cable operator, tracked down eventually, claimed there was no way he could afford the feed. “Telecasting rights rests with a relatively new channel this time and it demanded Rs 60 per month per connection. Since our monthly charge hovers around Rs 200 per month, it is virtually impossible for us to fork out almost one-third of the monthly collection to a solitary channel,” he said.

Another cable operator complained that the market was becoming far too crowded.

But subscribers in Jamshedpur’s Circuit House area and Kadma were fortunate as Jamshedpur Cable Channel Network (JCCN) bought the package from Neo Sports, owned by Nimbus Sports, which acquired the rights for the ongoing India-West Indies ODI series. JCCN proprietor Guddu Gupta said: “I cannot afford to antagonise my subscribers and since I am in this business, I negotiated and bought the package.”

All the other eight cable operators in the steel city, however, backed out.

Gupta claimed, his network had kept a close watch on the developments and took advantage of the “reduced cost” offered by the sports channel. According to him, Star India Pvt Ltd., marketing the feed, had last week reduced the package to Rs 37.25. With taxes, the package came to Rs 40 or so, which is by and large the amount charged by most other popular pay channels including ESPN-Star Sports etc.

Others missed out on the development because they were ignorant and had failed to maintain contact with the agencies, said Gupta.

Both cable operators and cricket fans are hoping that Nimbus will reach an understanding with Prasar Bharati, which will enable Doordarshan to telecast the remaining matches.

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