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700 million people may watch IPL matches

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN,
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, August 27: An estimated 700 million cricket fans are expected to watch the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) 13th tournament that will be played in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from next month. Analysts say more people will watch this year’s IPL than in the past.

Due to India-wide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the IPL matches will be played in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah in stadia that may be only filled only partially during September 19-November 10. The cash-rich IPL is owned by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

“Ratings will be good. This will be the biggest IPL ever,” declares Vinit Karnik, business head for entertainment, sports and live events, Group M, India’s largest media buying agency.

“Dream11 IPL will be the biggest platform available for marketers during this festive season. With matches beginning half-hour early (at 7:30 pm instead of 8 pm), fewer double headers (two matches a day) and stay-at-home fans anxiously waiting for their favourite cricket tournament, Dream11 IPL will be the most-watched season ever,” declares Gautam Thakar, CEO, Star Sports.

The estimated INR 180-billion Disney Star owns all media rights to the IPL in 2018-2022.

Over 462 million Indians watched IPL 2019. This includes out-of-home viewing at pubs, restaurants and so on, says the Broadcast Audience Research Council.

Based on the growth rate for the last four years and the pandemic-fuelled surge in TV viewership, this edition of the IPL could hit over 530 million viewers. That is just on TV. Disney Star also owns Disney+Hotstar, the second largest OTT in the country.

 IPL 2019 had seen a consolidated viewership of 613 million IPL 2020 should cross 700 million, analysts estimate.

 This is where the speculation begins. Over the two years since it has held the rights, Disney Star has done well on viewership, especially in Indian languages and also on revenue.

About a fourth of the IPL’s viewership comes from the Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Bangla audiences. From an estimated INR 15 billion in 2017, when Sony telecast its last IPL, revenues touched INR 30 billion in 2019.

 This year, if Star manages a revenue of INR 33-35 billion, it will have done a fantastic job, point out industry watchers. But it would still not be close to covering its annual outgo and running expenses on the IPL. In 2017, Star committed INR 163.47 billion spread over five years to the IPL “There has been no marquee live sports for a long time. So, at a philosophical level the Dream11 IPL signals a return of life to normalcy,” says Thakar.

 Add to that, pent-up demand. Many brands had held off spending in the last five months. On TV, fresh programming in July has already perked up the ad demand.

 Of the four major sports properties – IPL, Pro-Kabaddi League, Asia Cup and the T-20 World Cup — only one is happening. “In a market where sentiment is low, this (IPL) is a positive. For marketers, it’s a make or break moment in a bad year,” according to Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPL Mediabrands.

 IPL is usually held in April. Many of the advertising deals were signed in March. Some seasonal ones have stayed on board at roughly the same rate of INR 10-11 lakh per 10 seconds. This is a bit over last year’s rates, say buyers. Amazon, PhonePe have signed on and others are close to.

In April IPL has the field to itself. But, in September it will be fighting new seasons of blockbuster TV shows — Kaun Banega Crorepati and Bigg Boss. A late Diwali (November 14) means marketers might defer their spends to the second half of the IPL which ends on November 10. This would coincide with the festival bump. Or they might simply wait out for the next IPL in April 2021. “The advertiser mix and the purse size has changed (gone down),” agrees Karnik.

 The third challenge is how families in homes will enjoy the stadium feel with tech-enabled value addition and innovation. Look at what the Danish soccer league did,” says Karnik. In May, a Danish team’s fans took part in the game through a giant Zoom meeting.

Disney Star is contemplating something similar, say industry insiders. “Usually, the IPL is in eight cities and eight stadiums when played in India.

Now people from anywhere can join in on Zoom. They could do Hotstar watch-along parties or have say six giant LeD screens at the venue with 50 users per screen. In a 40-over match, that’s more than 12,000 users. A vast number of people can be part of the action,” says an analyst.

 And action is something Indians have been thirsting for.



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Toxic coconut oil scare trigger public wave of fear over aflatoxins in foodstuffs

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People now wary of buying certain products

By Suresh Perera

In the backdrop of a top official of Sri Lanka’s key standards body coming under heavy flak over her controversial claim that several other consumer commodities also contain toxic substances, public apprehension has shifted to many other products in the market following a wave of fear triggered over cancer-causing free radicals in foodstuffs, industry players said.

The Trade Ministry has already initiated a disciplinary inquiry into the assertion by Dr. Siddhika Senaratne, the Director-General of the Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI), that aflatoxins are also found in certain other food items sold to the public.

Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by certain fungi found on agricultural crops.

As the SLSI scientist’s remarks during a television talk show ignited an uproar following the seizure of imported stocks of contaminated coconut oil, industry officials said that customers are now wary of purchasing certain food products as the social media, rightly or wrongly, painted a frightening picture, they said.

A committee will be appointed to examine Dr. Senaratne’s statement to ascertain the validity or otherwise of her claim of the presence of aflatoxins in some food products in the marketplace, authoritative sources said.

Though the Director-General didn’t identify any of the “toxic products” she claimed were being sold to consumers, her statement unleashed a cycle of fear and uncertainty as consumers, influenced largely by social media reports and hearsay, viewed many brands with suspicion, the sources noted.

However, there has been no credible scientific evidence so far to prove that products identified on social media contain carcinogenic properties, they said.

Dr. Senaratne’s contention was that identifying products with toxic substances could lead to the collapse of some local industries. The Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) has been informed to take up the issue with the relevant manufacturers for remedial action, she said.

It is no secret that many mills use copra with fungus to extract coconut oil. The perishable copra is dried outdoors but there is no proper cleaning of the fungi, which are common under tropical and sub-tropical conditions, before the oil is extracted, industry officials said.

Has it been established whether the shiny wax coating used on apples as an oxygen barrier to preserve freshness, particularly in consignments imported from China, belong to the safe food grade material?, they asked.

In the case of apples imported to Sri Lanka from the USA, the whole process of orchard to point of landing take many weeks. It is true that fruits are stored in cold rooms to preserve quality and slow the aging process by regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. However, the question arises whether there are accredited processes to monitor the agro chemical and other toxic levels in imported apples and other varieties of fruits before permitting the stocks to be released to the local market, they noted.

Hoppers are a staple of Sri Lankan cuisine, but it’s common knowledge that many wayside eateries introduce plaster of paris (a quick-setting gypsum plaster consisting of a fine white powder known as calcium sulfate hemihydrate) to the batter to keep them fresh and crispy, the officials asserted.

“This is because customers insist on freshly baked hoppers and as a result, those that have gone flat cannot be sold”, they said.

Cleanliness of eateries is being monitored to some extent, but are there any quality checks for toxicity on the food served to customers?, they queried.

After the contaminated coconut oil scandal surfaced, people are reluctant to even buy traditional oil-based sweetmeats from the marketplace, they further said.

Unlike earlier years, there is a slump in sweetmeat sales, a supermarket official said. “Customers are wary about toxic coconut oil in the market”.

 

 

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Ceyleon Solutions launch Sparetime App to turn spare time into income

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Ceyleon Solutions, a leading mobile app solution provider, launched Sparetime (www.sparetime.lk), a special mobile app to make easy money using one’s spare time. This app helps to search for people providing domestic, official or personal services or earn an extra income by providing a wide range of services.

Services such as masonry, plumbing, computer related services, wholesale, distribution, medical & healthcare, teaching, legal, beauticians, cleaning, helping, babysitting and car wash can be either searched or provided using this app as it creates an online platform for such service providers and those who seek their services.

There are two apps compatible to android and apple phones, ‘Sparetime Provider’ for those who provide services and ‘Sparetime User’ for those who seek such services.

“This is an ideal option for those who find it difficult to make ends meet with their salaries. Using this app, they can make use of their spare time effectively to earn extra money. This creates a comprehensive service hub. For an example, a vegetable farmer can find both a whole seller and a transport service provider to transport his goods with just a click. Even students can find part time work for their financial needs”, said Chaminda De Silva, creator and owner of the Sparetime app.

“This app works as a platform for social workers to get together and mobilize people for tasks that they wish to perform. This is a very user friendly app. However, operating instructions can be obtained by calling our hotline 0706355450 or 0706355452. An instructor will come to help you if necessary”, he noted.

Regardless of being a service provider or a user, this app will be ideal. It will also pave the way to gradually reduce the unemployment rate in Sri Lanka and will subsequently contribute to the gross domestic product accelerating economic growth of Sri Lanka.

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“Zahran Hashim and his group were not Muslims; they hijacked the name of Islam to commit these crimes’

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Rishad Bathiudeen tells Parliament

The Muslims never called for separatism. The Muslims have been on the side of the nation for over 1,000 years in Sri Lanka as documented in the book of Dr. Lorna Devaraja titled, ‘The Muslims of Sri Lanka – One Thousand Years of Ethnic Harmony’. Even when the Muslims were threatened with eviction or death from the North, they risked their lives and the lives of their loved ones to be on the side of the State, Rishad Bathiudeen, MP, said.

Speaking in English during the fifth day of the debate on the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Attacks in Parliament on April 7, he said: “Zahran Hashim and his group were not Muslims. They hijacked the name of Islam to commit these crimes. The report in Page 94 confirms that Zahran wanted to build tensions between the Sinhalese and Muslim Communities of Sri Lanka”.

The MP’s speech contained many points and references to matters in the report and events that transpired thereafter.

Some of the points raised by the MP were:

* The State is antagonizing the Muslim community in the manner that Zahran had wanted them to act. The State should not play to the tunes of Zahran. The State should not act in a way that would jeopardize national security. The State has already commenced the process of State sponsored oppression by prohibiting the import of Muslim books and are making plans to ban Niqabs/Burkas and Madrasas.

* The PCoI has exonerated Rishad Bathiudeen from all charges in connection with the Easter attacks. Only two charges remain to be investigated. First one is in relation to the phone call placed by Bathiudeen to then Army Commander General Mahesh Senanayake, concerning Ihsan Moinudeen. Secondly, the sale of scrap metal by the Industrial Development Board to Colossus (Pvt) Ltd. Rishad Bathiudeen visited the Bribery Commission on 8th of April, 2021 to request them to investigate the allegation in the report.

 

* The weight placed on the phone call made by Rishad Bathiudeen to General Mahesh Senanayake, was given far higher significance in the report in comparison to the actions of Dayasiri Jayasekara who released six persons from the Hettipola Police Station who were involved in torching and destroying Muslim owned shops and Muslim places of worship. The Commission Report had recommended investigation into the phone call but had not charged Dayasiri on any matter.

 

* The Government cannot have a law banning the Niqab and Burka without also banning medical masks, helmets, sunglasses, etc.

* Restriction of Islamic books being brought into the country is a violation of the Constitution.

* Bathiudeen quoted Page 331 of the Report:‘Reciprocal radicalization is the cycle of radicalization which promotes each other’s radicalized ideologies’. If the Government can keep politicians like Wimal Weerawansa in check, the de-radicalization program will be half completed. He also said that inciting racism will only provoke and radicalize more Muslims.

 * Killing of Fouzul Ameer Mohamed Salley in Kottramulla before his children in the aftermath of the Easter Attacks, was Genocide under Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, and all persons who were inciting racism could be charged for incitement to genocide. Subsequent charges of oppression too can have a detrimental effect on Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka must be careful as Sri Lanka is now a party to the Rome Statute and can be held accountable by the International Criminal Court.

 

* It was Azath Salley who indicated during a press conference concerning the criminal activities of Zahran Hashim in 2017, but he is alleged to have connections to the Easter Attacks. This is not fair. The Government is politically victimizing Muslims who are speaking up against the oppressive tactics of the Government.

* The One Country One Law Policy does not mean that Muslim Personal Laws alone should be targeted. Most people believe that Customary Laws should be removed. However, that logic would require the Government to abolish Provincial legislation too, as Provincial legislation is also territorially implemented and not countrywide. Several laws will have to be struck down. However, the right way of interpreting the One Country One Law policy would be to maintain all laws that are consistent with the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

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