Ranjona Banerji: Star Sports network is welcome, but no unannounced switchovers please

06 Nov,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

The international media is very taken with India’s Mars Orbiter Mission.

 

Andrew North, BBC’s South Asia correspondent, on the BBC website, wrote from the scene of the launch at Sriharikota, “No one was interested here in questions about India’s priorities.”

 

Which is a bit disingenuous. Since there have been a number of questions on whether ISRO needed to send this PSLV-C25 to orbit Mars as well as on the Rs 460 crore spent. Perhaps no journalist on the scene discussed the issue of priorities with North but they certainly did it elsewhere. Al Jazeera was more matter of fact on its website, restricting itself to details of the launch on the website. CNN’s Tom Hume saw the launch as a “symbolic coup as China steps up its ambitions in space”. In a nuanced story, the criticism came from Indian commentators, academic-activists like Jean Dreze and former ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair.

 

The Telegraph UK, normally very critical of India, had a nuts and bolts story by Dean Nelson of the launch, picking up a tweet from columnist Tavleen Singh about how India cannot provide drinking water to its people. However, plenty of scientists quoted talked about inspiration for young Indians and so on.

 

DNA’s website had an IANS story for the main piece on the Mars Mission while Indian Express’s website had PTI. The Times of India had three people sharing a byline, one of which is Srinivas Laxman who has covered aeronautics and space-related events for the paper for many years.

 

**

 

Star Sports has Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni telling us to “believe”. This is part of a massive media blitz to launch its new face and its new channels (some of which used to be ESPN). Star Sports now has four regular channels and two HD channels. This is welcome news indeed for sports fans. Today’s Times of India in Hyderabad had Star Sports on the front jacket and the front page was all sports-related stories and the regular front page followed it. Good planning to launch on the first day of the penultimate Test match featuring Sachin Tendulkar. Since most of the faux front page stories were about Tendulkar, including columns by Brian Lara and Sourav Ganguly and comments from Roger Federer.

 

One can only hope that Star Sports can fulfil the dreams of all sports fans with all its channels and not switch mid-tournament in one discipline to showing another at random – the way it has been doing regularly so far. Us tennis fans have thus suffered because of football, Formula 1 and of course cricket. Perhaps now they will only buy rights to tournaments that they can actually show us. This may be some pipe dream, but still.

 

But to be fair to Star Sports, it is not the only transgressor. The normally reliable Ten Sports decided on Tuesday night to stop showing the ATP World Tour Finals in London – which it did on Monday night and Tuesday evening – and switch to football without so much as a by your leave. Star Sports HD 2 did show it however. Ah well.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator based in Mumbai. She is also Contributing Editor, MxMIndia. She can be reached via Twitter at @ranjona. The views here are her own

 

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One response to “Ranjona Banerji: Star Sports network is welcome, but no unannounced switchovers please”

  1. Sunil D'souza says:

    Star Sports is showing the ATP Finals. Not sure which one of the Star Sports Channels though…. and with the new branding i’m completely confused. But I guess if you tune in around 7.30 pm IST you should be able to figure it out. Sunil

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