Olympian losses, but the babus had a ball

BY hoot| IN Media Practice | 13/10/2008
If you cringed at Doordarshan’s Olympics coverage, now take a look at what it cost and who benefited.
THE HOOT asks for some answers from Prasar Bharati using RTI.

Though the Olympics telecast, and Doordarshan¿s wondrous coverage of it have already faded from public memory, it has been less than two months since it ended and the figures are now available to show  how the national broadcaster managed to  snatch amazing losses out of an exclusive telecast event which people were dying to watch.

Prasar Bharati paid the equivalent of Rs 13 crore plus for the broadcast rights for All India Radio and Doordarshan. In addition it budgeted Rs 1.8 crore for the All India Radio team covering the games. And another Rs 1.7 crore for the Doordarshan team. So that puts the cost of covering the Olympics at 16.5 crore or more, depending on what the exchange rate was when the rights were paid for.

And what did it earn from the telecast of the games in terms of revenue?

All India Radio, which spent Rs 1.8 crore covering it, earned Rs 13.45 lakh. Doordarshan which spent Rs 1.7 crore on its team, earned Rs 5.23 crore.   So that¿s a total earning of Rs 5.37 crore, roughly a third of what it spent. Brilliant, considering it had exclusive rights.

If Prasar Bharati spent Rs 3.5 crore on the teams it sent to cover the Olympics, who did they send?  If the atheletes who represented India at the games were 57 in number, the PB contingent  numbered 76 officials. Did any of them take their family along? Not officially, says the public information office of the Prasar Bharati secretariat, make what you will of that.

And who did these 76 consist of ? A merry band of top officials, including, naturally, the CEO of Prasar Bharati, the acting director generals of AIR and DD, chief engineers of both organizations,  ten cameramen from some eight different kendras, a large band of engineering assistants, and assistant engineers, as well as a senior engineering assistant (13 in all) , seven commentators including a non official commentator, whatever that means,  and a host of programme executives and sundry other designations.

How many of these worthies had  a sports specialization? The list puts ¿sports¿ in paranthesis against six names.  Asked which specialisation  each member of the programme  staff  was initially recruited for,  the official reply is, "All Programme Staff have been recruited for planning and production of programmes."  

Given that the feed was provided by Beijing Olympic Broadcasting, the organization responsible for filming the games, you wonder what 15 engineers of various levels were doing there. Or 10 camera persons, for that matter. Enjoying the "Olumpics", doubtless.

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