March 13, 2010

Indian Premier League

IPL blackout in Pakistan

George Binoy

By Osman Samiuddin

Geo Super, Pakistan’s only local sports channel, is not broadcasting this year’s IPL after cable operators in Pakistan threatened to boycott any channel showing the league.

The channel signed a three-year contract last season to broadcast the IPL – having also shown the inaugural season – and was preparing to do so this year as well but had to shelve their plans a few days ago in light of the boycott threat.

“There was a press release and circular from the Cable Association of Pakistan saying that any channel showing it would be boycotted by them,” Mohammad Ali, the channel head, told Cricinfo. “Their decision is due to no Pakistani players being signed up this year at the auction.”

The decision has hit the channel hard, not only its revenue streams, but also in depriving them of content for the next 45 days. “We are an events-based channel and when a situation like this happens, that hurts us as much as the revenue streams hit. We had content for a month and a half and now we have to reschedule it,” Ali said.

Generally, the urban TV viewer has a number of alternatives to choose from as far as sports are concerned. Most cable operators have a wide range of international sports channels on offer, often illegally shown. But even those channels, such as the South African SuperSports network, on which IPL games would be normally available are currently not available.

There are reports, however, that in cities such as Rawalpindi and Lahore, and other areas of Punjab, the IPL is being shown by some cable operators.

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George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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