Technology

Tdsat asks Doordarshan to furnish Rs 200 mn bank guarantee to ESPN

NEW DELHI: The Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (Tdsat) has directed public broadcaster Prasar Bharati to submit a bank guarantee to sports broadcaster ESPN Software over a payment dispute with regards to live broadcast of nationally important cricket matches on Doordarshan.


In its interim order, Tdsat has, however, prevented ESPN from encashing the guarantee without the its permission.


Prasar Bharati has contested a demand by ESPN for payment of its share of advertisement revenue for matches carried live simultaneously on Doordarshan on grounds of violations of the provisions of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007.


The sports broadcaster, which runs ESPN, Star Sports and Star Cricket channels, has challenged Prasar Bharati‘s refusal to share the revenue, based on which the Tdsat has asked Prasar Bharati to provide a bank guarantee.
Prasar Bharati is required to share 75 per cent of the advertisement revenue from live cricket matches telecast by it and the rights for which are held by another broadcaster under the Act.


Tdsat chairman S B Sinha and member P K Rastogi have also decided to hear the ESPN-Prasar Bharati case on a expeditious basis.


The tribunal said: "Indisputably in terms of the provisions of the Act and the Rules, the respondent in the fact of the present case (Prasar Bharati) is to share 75 per cent of its bid amount, which amounts to Rs 200 million, with the petitioner ESPN, wherefore it has to furnish a bank guarantee."


The Tdsat order is, however, not clear on the tournament or matches for which Prasar Bharati has declined to share its advertising revenue with ESPN.


K Parasaran, Additional Solicitor General appearing for Prasar Bharati, told Tdsat that the petitioner (ESPN) and/or the International Cricket Council (ICC) have violated the spirit of the provisions of the Act and the Rules framed there-under in so far as ICC continues to give its advertisements and its logo which is violative of the underlying spirit of the Act. He pointed out that Rule 3 was clear that "the revenue would not be shared for the revenues that the rights holders – in this case ESPN or ICC - make out of."


The Section 3 of the Act provides that no content rights owner or holder and no television or radio broadcasting service provider shall carry a live television broadcast on any cable or direct-to-home (DTH) network or radio commentary broadcast in India of sporting events of national importance, unless it simultaneously shares the live broadcasting signal, without its ads, with Prasar Bharati to enable them to re-transmit the same on its terrestrial and DTH networks in such manner and on such terms and conditions as may be specified.


Prasar Bharati has objected to ICC continuing to give its advertisements and its logo in the live feed passed on to Doordarshan for re-transmission, which the public broadcaster says is in violation of the provision of of the act. The act requires that the content rights owner or holder should provide advertisement-free broadcasting signal to the public broadcaster but the provision has been violated with the delivery of ICC advertisements and logo along with the feed for the live cricketing event.


The section also provides that the advertisement revenue sharing between the content rights owner or holder and Prasar Bharati shall be in the ratio of not less than 75: 25 in case of television coverage and 50: 50 in case of radio coverage.


Rule 4 of the rules framed under the act provide that the party getting the marketing rights shall give a bank guarantee to the other party for an amount equal to the other party’s share of guaranteed revenue which shall be valid for a period of six months from the first day of the month succeeding the month in which the sporting event comes to an end.

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