Regulators

Delhi HC halts ESS' cricket highlights telecast

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MUMBAI: Just three days after ESPN STAR Sports announced the acquisition of telecast rights to feature comprehensive daily highlights of all international cricket played in India till September 2004, the Delhi High Court issued an injunction that no part of any ongoing match could be telecast in any form within the Indian territory.

The court issued the stay on telecast following a complaint filed by Modi Entertainment Network, the distributors of national broadcaster Doordarshan's DD Sports channel. DD holds the worldwide telecast rights for all international cricket played in India.

ESS in an official release stated: "ESS had been licensed highlight rights for the India West Indies 2002 Series by TWI/Stracon acting for Richard Li's Pacific Century Cyberworks (which had, in turn, been licensed these from TWI). ESS acting in good faith showed highlights for the first 2 days of the match in Mumbai. Earlier today, in a dispute between MEN/Prasar Bharati/TWI/Stracon to which ESS was made a party, MEN and PB contended that TWI/Stracon did not have the rights, which have been licensed to ESS. Pending further hearing the Delhi High Court has injuncted the telecast of the highlights being shown by ESS. We certainly expect TWI/Stracon to appeal the decision immediately."

The Delhi High Court was in session from 10 am to 4 pm and heard both sides on the matter. After issuing its injunction against ESS, it set 25 October as the next date for detailed arguments, Rajan Kaaicker, CEO distribution group, MEN, told indiantelevision.com.

According to the information available with indiantelevision.com, the situation as it stands is as follows: DD have the worldwide telecast rights for all international cricket played in India. They sublicensed the rights outside of India to TWI/Stracon. However, this includes worldwide (including India) broadband Internet rights for streaming video and the rights for small footage sales in India non exclusively (for advertisements for example). TWI used this deal to sell the nightly highlights of Indian cricket to PCC/Now for their channel along with the streaming video on the Internet. As NOW was restructured they asked TWI to sell the highlights to a conventional non-broadband broadcaster. That is how TWI worked out the highlights package sale to ESPN.

MEN's argument was that this is in conflict with the TWI contract as sub-license to another broadcaster in India was not part of the terms of the deal, something that the court appears to be prima facie in agreement with.

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