The Supreme Court on 20 February directed to continue suspension of the High Court order of 04 February till further orders, rejecting suggestions from Star India for Prasar Bharati to either start a new channel for broadcasting Cricket World Cup live feed or run a scroll that the transmission is only meant for Doordarshan. The matter will now come up in July 2015.
While considering the suggestion to start a new channel for the World Cup, the Supreme Court Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant said, “We have considered the suggestions put forward on behalf of the respondents. The first suggestion is with regard to setting up of an extra/special channel which has been contended by Prasar Bharati to be unviable and technically unfeasible within any reasonable period of time. Though an offer has been made on behalf of respondent No. 4 (Star India) to make available its expertise and personnel to aid the Prasar Bharati, we are not inclined to consider the said offer made on behalf of respondent No. 4. The first suggestion put forward therefore does not merit acceptance.”
Also. Considering the suggestion to run a scroll on the screen, the Court said, “Insofar as the second suggestion i.e. putting up a scroll to the effect that, the channel displaying the sports event (concerned ICC World Cup 2015 matches) is meant only for Doordarshan, has received our consideration. Acceptance of the said suggestion would be understanding the provisions of Section 3 of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007 and Section 8 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 in a particular manner which is not warranted at this stage of the proceedings. We, therefore, decline to accept the said second suggestion advanced on behalf of the respondents.”
Meanwhile, the judges said the parties may exchange pleadings, if required.
In an additional affidavit filed at the instance of the apex court, Star India had said that it was losing around Rs 290 crore every year by sharing its sports signals with Doordarshan every year and was expecting to lose around Rs 120 crore by sharing the telecast of the World Cup this year. (Under the Act, the rights holder gets 75 per cent of the revenue from the telecast on DD which keeps the balance 25 per cent.)
On the suggestion by Star Sports that DD should run a separate channel without the signals of the World Cup for cable operators or run a scroll that the World Cup telecasts are not meant for cable operators, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had pointed out that DD had 1400 transmitters all over the country of which most were unmanned and it was technically not feasible for DD to run a separate channel.
The Delhi High Court had declined to set aside the must carry clause as well as the Act of 2007 in its judgment.