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Cable short shrift to sports fans
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● Tata Sky subscriber and Arsenal fan Imran Khan of Sakherbazar in Behala has missed the live telecast of most of the Gunners’ matches in the UEFA Champions League because Zee Sports is not on the DTH platform.

● Souvik Das, whose old television does not have the S-band, has missed several I-League matches this season. His multi-system operator (MSO) relegates the channel showing the matches to the S-band if there is live telecast of cricket on another channel.

● Sariputra Mutsuddi, 26, a resident of Ananda Palit, missed 20 minutes of the fifth England-West Indies ODI recently played in the Caribbean before he could find the channel showing it, Ten Sports, in slot 97.


A look at Calcutta’s cable palette — offered by MSOs and DTH players — reveals that most service providers do not care for the preferences of a sports-crazy city.

Most MSOs provide just one sports channel in the first 30 slots, filled with entertainment, movie and news channels.

The worse hit is the cable customer with an old TV set, without the S-band, because the lone sports channel in the prime band is always showing live action. The message: whatever is not live won’t interest sports lovers.

“Carriage money, paid to the MSOs by broadcasters, dictates the slot the channel would be placed in. Sports channels have not entered this race and, therefore, not many of them occupy the top slots,” said Mrinal Chatterjee, of Kolkata Cable, an MSO.

Also, whenever there is a live international cricket match, it is immediately put on the prime band. “A month back, I was watching an I-League match of Mohun Bagan but the channel was suddenly removed from the prime band because of a cricket match that did not even involve India had started,” said Das.

Tata Sky has also not been very friendly to sports fans, especially those who follow football. Last year, it introduced a package comprising most of the sports channels — STAR Sports, ESPN, STAR Cricket, Neo Sports, Neo Cricket and Ten Sports — for Rs 40 per month.

“The scheme was introduced just before Euro Cup. The phone lines got jammed and many of those willing to pay the amount missed matches for a couple of days,” said a Tata Sky subscriber.

Some other subscribers complained that accessing the sports package is difficult because of a lack of clarity on the part of the DTH service provider.

Another persistent problem is that Tata Sky does not offer Zee Sports, which shows a host of international soccer as well as I-League matches. “Whenever two popular teams play different matches simultaneously, one set of fans loses out on the live action,” said Khan.

Calcutta deserves better. Viewership figures show the city watches more sports than the rest of the country. During the FIFA World Cup, Calcutta had a TRP of 9.34 against a national TRP of 1.98.

“The Calcutta market has always been very important for us as it is among the largest consumers of sports in the country. In terms of soccer consumption, the two states that rank the highest are West Bengal and Kerala. Amongst the two, the TRP is higher in West Bengal,” said an ESPN-STAR Sports official.

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