Friday, February 02, 2007

Dacoity in the name of socialism

The story goes something like this: In a village far, far away, a man wishes to start his own bakery. He knows he has the recipe for the best bread in town. So he saves and plans for years before he has enough money to start his business.

He finally sets up his shop, and starts making his bread. People love how it tastes; it's unlike anything they've ever tasted, and the bread has nutritious ingredients exclusive to this baker's recipe. Nobody knows what goes in the bread, but everyone knows it's good for health.

The baker is experiencing windfall. News about his recipe spreads. The King soon hears of it. He orders his men to bring him a sample. Upon tasting the bread, the King begins to think.

Soon after, the King's soldiers confiscate the bakery. The baker is summoned. The King says the baker can carry on with his business only if he produces the bread free of cost for him, reveals his secret recipe, and also deposits all his profits into the royal treasury.

The King also decides that the bread will be given away to the community so that everyone can get a taste of the nutritious bread, free of cost. The baker is helpless. He can't help but agree.

This story might sound familiar to those who've been following the battle over the rights to broadcast cricket matches in India.

Because now comes the news that Prasar Bharti will get a feed from private broadcasters, without advertisements, of events of national importance, starting February 8.

This is dacoity in the name of socialism. Private broadcasters (in this case, Nimbus) have bid millions of dollars to buy the rights to these games. Prasar Bharti hasn’t spent a paisa. Yet, because of this ordinance, not only will they get the deferred live feed, they can also get to mint money from advertisements.

Prasar Bharti will get only 25% of the advertisement revenue — the rest goes to Nimbus, and quite rightly too — but if this is being done in “national interest”, why wouldn’t the government give up 100% of their ad revenue?

I’m in favour of making cricket more accessible to the masses, but isn’t protecting individual rights in national interest too?

This is not a free country, believe it or not. With brotherpuckers like Priyaranjan Dasmunsi around, we’ll never know what it is to be self-respecting and free people.


illusion said...

boy, you have taken prasar bharati's a*** off!

Sir Nicholas said...

The state exists to protect the society. I am not against individualism or for that matter, capitalism, however granting of monopoly rights to one channel, ruling out competition is bad for the collectivist interests.

If there was actual competition between private players, and perhaps even Prasar Bharti, then the feed would have been shared at lower costs for the general public.

Nimbus has been sticking to a higher-pricing policy and is in a way trying to arm-twist private cable networks to cede to the high costs it wants to charge from the subscribers, without any kind of competition in the market.

Does the government have any other solution?