March 25, 2008
From the Rajya Sabha debate archives:
SHRI DINESH TRIVEDI: I support this Bill. I was always opposed to politicians being in sports unless they themselves are sports people. But I have to change my views by seeing the contribution of so many people here. I think, only the people’s representatives will take care and support whatever is good for the people and this particular Bill. I would like to compliment Hon’ble Minister but I would like to take this opportunity also to mention that this is a wake up call for the Government. I am not against the private sector but they can blackmail at the last minute the way the Hon’ble Minister mentioned about the West Indies game.
The debate was over a bill making it mandatory for private broadcasters to share certain sporting events with Prasar Bharati (that’s Doordarshan and All India Radio). It took place in March last year, when Nimbus refused to share its live feed of the India-West Indies games. This was the blackmail the minister spoke about – that a private broadcaster refused to toe the official line. Because of the bill, Nimbus was in serious trouble. Of course it didn’t help that Nimbus bid $612 million for the cricket rights, especially when they knew what the second-highest bid was. Now they’re up for sale, apparently.