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MSOs write to Govt. on WC telecast issue as Prasar Bharati gets ready to file appeal in SC

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NEW DELHI: Even as Prasar Bharati sources confirmed that instructions had been issued to their legal representatives to file an appeal in the Supreme Court, multi-system operators (MSOs) have urged Information and Broadcasting Ministry secretary Bimal Julka that the Delhi High Court order relating to the World Cup telecast will have ‘grave consequences with millions of Cable TV homes in the country being forced to subscribe to the ESPN Star Sports channels.’

In a letter sent to Julka with copies to I&B Minister Arun Jaitley and officials of Prasar Bharati and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), Vikki Choudhary on behalf of the smaller MSOs and LCOs said, “The move will force cable TV customers to subscribe to all the Star Sports channels even under the Digital Access System (DAS) regime.”

Describing the judgment as a ‘big shock’, Choudhary of Home Cable in his letter to the Ministry has described the court order as ‘vague’ on the re-transmission of Doordarshan feed of the Cricket World Cup 2015 matches. “We are under a mandatory ‘must carry’ clause of the DD Channels on our DAS cable distribution platform,” the letter read.  

DD legal experts have on the other hand said that an appeal would be filed in the Supreme Court since the directive of the High Court militates against the must-carry clause and the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007. Several multi-system operators in the capital also confirmed to indiantelevision.com that they were planning to either file an independent appeal or intervene in the appeal to be filed by Doordarshan or Prasar Bharati.

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.

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