Delhi HC accepts Prasar Bharatis plea for clean feed of sports signals

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Pradeep Nandrajog of the Delhi High Court have said that any channel telecasting a live television broadcast of sporting events of national importance must share the same with national broadcaster Doordarshan without any commercials.

Upholding Prasar Bharati’s view, the Court made the observations while dismissing ESPN’s plea seeking a direction to Prasar Bharati not to insist on the live signal of international cricket matches of India without any commercials. “We find no merit in the writ petition which we dismiss but without any order as to costs.”

Prasar Bharati had on 6 April told ESPN that “it is not in a position to share the live signals which are not clean” and insisted that the channel provide the feed of the matches without any commercials.

Filing a petition before the High Court, ESPN had claimed to be the exclusive distributor of cricket matches of national importance. Furthermore, it said as a matter of practice it had offered the live signals of several matches with commercials as mandated by the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007 and relevant rules, but the pubcaster had imposed a condition relating to clean feed.

Seeking the court’s intervention, the channel had said, “Refusal of the respondent to accept the feed has resulted in a stalemate or impasse which may deprive millions of viewers of watching the international cricket tournaments.”

ESPN had argued that it did not have control over the "Commercial inserts" that were attached to the feed received by it from the event organisers. ESPN had further argued that its "obligation under the law was to share the live broadcast signal as it was received" by it from the sporting event organiser; and since the feed received by it contain certain advertisements by the organiser of the sporting event, their obligation were limited to share the signal as it is. 

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