Asian College of Journalism hosted a panel discussion with celebrity cricket writer and independent journalist Gideon Haigh on October 30, 2017.
N.Ram, Chairman, Kasturi & Sons Ltd, moderated the discussion. Eminent sports writers V. Ramnarayan and KC Vijaya Kumar were the panelists.
Gideon Haigh, who has authored more than 30 books and has written for over 100 publications, briefed the students about his journey from being a business journalist to a sports journalist.
Haigh, who was in India to promote the reprinted version of his book ‘The Cricket War, The Story of Kerry Packer’s World Series’, talked about his book and Kerry Packer who had signed 35 elite international players for his own televised ‘World Series’ way back in 1977.
Haigh said: “Packer understood that if you control broadcast rights to a very popular sport like cricket or Australian Football or Rugby league or golf or tennis you could basically drag an audience and monetize their own facilitation to the game”.
Haigh listed the unique motives and methods that Kerry Packer used, to change the cricketing experience on the field and on the screen, commercializing the sport in the process. Up until that stage, television was covered from a reverent distant from one end, first half from bowlers end and another half from the batsman’s end. It was Packer who introduced the concept of using various cameras and slow-motion replays to give the viewer the feeling that he had the best seat in the house.
Haigh also dwelt upon cricket broadcasting in Australia and India and also drew a parallel between market forces in Packer’s era to present day T20 league format. Haigh also stressed the need to back Test cricket and to not get intimidated by the broadcasting networks.
Mr. Haigh stated, “Television is only interested in the very, very elite level of the game, the star attractions and the most colourful and extreme popular versions of the game”.
The panel discussion came to an end with an interactive session between the students and Gideon Haigh.