DD sore spots in store

AS the guy station-stuck with the rurally dumb bride, how "Fevicold" are we viewers left by that goree chamdee chasing groom!


Sourav Ganguly... up against the final Steve Waugh frontier in Australia.-Pic. N. SRIDHARAN

AS the guy station-stuck with the rurally dumb bride, how "Fevicold" are we viewers left by that goree chamdee chasing groom! A Day Dream Run is what DD promises the tube buffs, as it diabolically prepares to resume international cricket telecast, come September. "Spot" on you are if you think: "Five-ball overs are here again!" Along with a bonus in the Everest Masala shape of a lady Hindi commentator to keep up with the Symondses. If what a little Kiwi bird whispers into my ear is anything to go by. Hopefully it is not a DD lady commentator who tells us, AIR style, that the score is "8 runs for 208 wickets"! Rather than "208 runs for 8 wickets".

Before and after the way it uncovered the Mumbai-Tamil Nadu Ranji Final, just no expectations, I say, from DD, Kapil Devilish DD? Sa Re Ga Ma Pa-Shaan music to our ears, in fact, is news that DD's contract with the BCCI is due to expire by end-2004. ZEE, never forget, was the highest bidder last time out. Prasar Bharati-DD bagged the fat contract then only as the National Network came to be Third Eye-washingly favoured by the "BCCBI". Following the sting and stink left by the matchfix controversy. DD clinched the deal on the premise that its reach extended to a record 65 million Indian homes. Now the BCCI has tellingly lowered the perforated-line signing benchmark to 10 million Indian homes.

That brings espnstar and SonyMax bang back into the telepicture. ZEE, of course, must vie expansively for the contract yet again. But my own reading — of the no-punches-pulled idiot boxing bidding in the offing — is different. I say Sahara India is going to leave no precious stone unturned in its zeal to capture the market that means everything in terms of channel projection today. The ideal via media, for the Dalmiyachted Board to pursue in our stream of consciousness, would be to stay with the world class picture from TWI, Nine Network, or whoever. While the BCCI's Marketing Committee, becomingly, separates The Sound from The Picture. In negotiating a two-tier format as far as live commentary goes.

A twin tier by which the English Sound rights remain exclusively with a channel habitually projecting known international telecasters in the field. The Hindi Sound rights, side by side, to be given to the English channel chosen. But on the clear understanding that those Hindi Sound rights are to be spot sold back (for a high enough pre-agreed price) to DD as the National Network. As the giant penetrating 65 million Indian homes, I dare say DD would be only too happy to plump for only the Hindi commentating rights. Leaving the nuisance angrezee part of the commentary to a super professional agency (like espnstar) knowing its job inside out. In other words, the channel (say, espnstar) cornering the English rights should be the one making all the 10-12 cameras' arrangements at the Test or ODI venue. Through a tie-up with a picture agency of the Nine Network calibre. If only because Nine Network is already all attuned to the spoken espnstar word. Cover point — let the camerawork, for both Hindi and English, be by Nine Network. With English telecasting and Hindi commentary never mixing. The twain never can meet. The spot ads reserved for English and Hindi are so divergent — in content and intent — that this is the only rational way out for the BCCI's Marketing Committee. Venturing to draw up a fresh bid, beginning 2005. Such an approach would ensure enduring English commentary expertise.

While keeping DD upbeat with its share of the Hindi cake. I am speaking purely from the crickety point of view when I aver that the English coverage should be by espnstar as the sole Asia-oriented channel committed to cricket full time. But what if Dalmiya's BCCI opts for Sony money power? Over to the Mandira syndrome it is then. Yet Mandira it just won't be next Sony time out. If only because SonyMax — Kapil Dil Se — is "all thighs" to all people! No business like leg-show business. Variety is the spice of "live" — Mandira, the Seen Scene by now. "New Vamps For Old" is the SonyMaxim. By which tele-divas stay in the public eye.

But may be I am jumping the gun moll. End-2004 is still a cricket eon away. Meanwhile we have to live with time dishonoured DD mediocrity through 2 Tests vs New Zealand. Plus 9 ODIs as contested, in India, by the Kiwis and the Kangaroos with Sourav and his Gung-Ho Gang. After that, it is espnstar via Channel 9, all the way, in Australia. Through an acid 4-Test series. Through any number of ODIs. Depending upon the mental resolve with which Sourav & Co refuse to settle for a VB Series of setbacks. As to what happens, Chalte Chalte, on our Kareenavel-displaying TV after Australia 2003-04, your belly button gaze is as good as mine. Thankfully, we certainly are on telly velvet in Australia.

Where we are assured a Channel 9 ringside view of how Bradmanly, still, is Sachin while endeavouring to take Brian Lara in his striking stride. Who knows, the perch Indian cricket so loftily occupies, on the rectangular screen today, could undergo an Arabian Sea change by mid-February 2004. If, all over again, we fail to win our spurs Down Under. In the face of what the Ugly Aussie is planning to do to us Injuns, even the Zing Zinta might be only so Preity to telewatch and no more. Brisbane, the bane of our cricket, starting December 4. In the December of his career, more than one Indian superstar could find himself under unprecedented pressure to deliver Down Under. Here and now — or never.