All India Radio may not broadcast the Commonwealth Games, making this the first such occurrence in the history of the public radio broadcaster.
Coverage of the CWG, which starts in Gold Coast on April 4, may not be aired due to the ongoing infighting between the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, headed by Smriti Irani and Prasar Bharati, according to a report in the Times of India.
AIR has reportedly paid Rs 1.6 crore for broadcasting rights and booth bookings at the Games.
Prasar Bharati, reeling under a fund crunch, might ask AIR to pull out, resulting in a significant loss of revenue. TOI quoted a source as saying, “AIR is likely to get back less than Rs 30 lakh as refund.”
Prasar Bharati, following a freeze of funds from the ministry, had to dig into it’s reserves to pay staff salaries and other dues, reportedly asked AIR to cancel coverage of the quadrennial event after the latter requested Rs 50 lakh for boarding, lodging and travel expenses for a 13-member CWG crew.
“AIR has requested them to reconsider since it’ll be difficult to explain the loss of over Rs 1 crore of public money. However, PB bosses feel that isn’t AIR’s problem and they will do the explaining if need be,” the source said.
The radio broadcaster was expected to cover the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the hockey and badminton tournaments. “Along the way, we would have added the events in which India does well. India’s expected to do well in hockey and badminton, so live coverage booths for these sport was pre-booked,” an AIR official added.
India is sending a 222-member strong contingent to the Gold Coast Games.