The Supreme Court today stayed the Delhi High Court order of 4 February barring Prasar Bharati to share the sports feed of Cricket World Cup with Cable Operators in compliance with the Prasar Bharati Act and Sports Act.
The Union government and Prasar Bharati on 09 February had moved the Supreme Court (SC) challenging a Delhi high court (HC) order barring Prasar Bharati from sharing with cable operators through Doordarshan (DD) channels the live feed of the 2015 ICC (International Cricket Council) World Cup, of which ESPN and Star have exclusive broadcasting rights.
The appeal was heard today, the 10th February by a Bench headed by Chief Justice Sh H L Dattu. Attorney-general (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, argued the matter on behalf of the government.
As reported in Cable Quest yesterday, a bench of Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva passed the order on 4 February on the plea of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), ESPN and Star who had contended that cable TV operators were getting live feeds through DD channels free of cost, resulting in loss of revenue for them.
The Attorney General said that the High Court verdict was not only against the mandate of the Sports Act and Cable TV Network Act but was also contrary to public interest.
ESPN and Star Sports will submit their replies by 17 February when the leave petition will be heard.
According to Section 3 of the Sports Act, it is mandatory for sports broadcasters to share with Prasar Bharati the live feed of sporting events of national importance for providing it on DD’s free-to-air channels. From the provisions of Prasar Bharati Act, it is clear that Prasar Bharati has the primary duty to organise and conduct public broadcasting service with the object of informing, educating and entertaining the public and to ensure a balanced development of broadcasting on radio and television. One of its objectives is to provide adequate coverage on sports and games so as to encourage healthy competition and the spirit of sportsmanship. In order to realize this goal, the Prasar Bharati has been empowered to negotiate for purchase, or otherwise acquire programmes and rights or privileges, in respect of sports. A 2000 notification issued by Prasar Bharati also mandates that all cable operators carry DD National and DD News channels.
Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), ESPN and Star had contended before the High Court that cable TV operators were getting live feeds through DD channels free of cost, resulting in loss of revenue for them. Based on this, The High Court had given its ruling.
The high court also observed that while advertisement revenue received by DD in respect of the shared content of the sports channels was to be shared in the ratio of not less than 75:25, “it still does not cater to the loss of subscription revenue” by ESPN and Star. It had, however, rejected their additional prayers to strike down Section 3 of the Sports Act, which makes it mandatory for them to share with Prasar Bharati the live feed of sporting events of national importance.