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HC ruling puts paid to illegal Nat West series cricket final telecast

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It's taking time but it's happening. A legal framework for dealing with the rampant pirating of cable signals is slowly falling into place.

Thursday's Delhi High Court ruling restraining as many as 27 cable operators and networks across the country from unauthorised telecast of today's Nat West Series final between India and England (Sri Lanka was earlier eliminated from the cricket triangular) marks the widening of the scope as far as efforts to stop piracy is concerned.

The strictures apply to cable operators across six states - Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana.

It needs noting though that the all encompassing order issued by Justice Dr Mukundakam Sharma on Thursday was workable because a common suit was filed by Multichoice Africa, a DTH service provider in the Africa continent, Arab Digital Distribution, a DTH service provider in the Middle East and ESPN Software India. Super Sports is on the Multichoice Africa platform, Pehla Plus and Fox Sports are on the Arab Digital Distribution platform while ESPN and Star Sports are distributed by ESPN Software.

The order has nipped in the bud the common tactic resorted to by many rogue operators who used the DTH boxes meant for use outside India and continue telecast of cricket matches. During last month's Fifa World Cup Ten Sports could do nothing despite a tough court ruling to cable ops and MSOs who were capturing either a Russian feed or one from a far eastern (Chinese?) broadcaster with English commentary being added onto the telecast.

The order is in fact on the same lines as that obtained by Ten Sports in its suit and allows for the appointment of six local commissioners to be assisted by the local police to search the premises of the cable operators and take into custody all equipment which are or could be used for the broadcast of the channels on the cable networks.

Rajeev Nayyar, an advocate in the high court who represents ESPN Star Sports in the case was quoted as saying: "Our contention was that these cable operators' contract with ESPN Star Sports had come to an end long ago and despite that they were telecasting the triangular series. Therefore, all the three parties came together and filed a suit against them." 

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