Television

Court dismisses MEN suit against DD Sports turning FTA

NEW DELHI: Pubcaster Doordarshan's sports channel, DD Sports, has managed to break out of the Modi Entertainment Network (MEN) grip, which was contracted to distribute it, and become a free to air channel.

Ruling in favour of Prasar Bharati, which oversees the functioning of DD and All India Radio, the Delhi high court today dismissed a petition filed by MEN that it would lead to loss of commercial interest if DD Sports turned free, a Prasar Bharati official said. The court had set time till 14 July for deciding on the matter.

When contacted for an official response on the developments, MEN's Amit Nag offered "no comments."

Doordarshan Sports, launched in 1999 to give exclusive coverage to sports, Indian as well as international, went pay in September 2000 as per the prevailing trend then.

Having tuned a pay channel, Prasar Bharati followed another trend and hired MEN as the channel's distribution and marketing agent on a revenue sharing basis. As part of the deal, MEN was required to increase the sports channel's connectivity, promote and publicize it aggressively.

However, in reality, DD Sports, available through PAS 10 satellite, suffered from poor connectivity and lack of publicity. Since the pay route was not yielding desired results, Prasar Bharati contemplated making DD Sports free. This also suited its public service broadcaster's image.

But MEN moved the Delhi high court earlier this year, saying Prasar Bharati proposal to make DD Sports an FTA channel would harm its commercial interests.

MEN had been distributing DD Sports along with Fashion TV and Hallmark. Since then FTV has gone FTA about a month ago as part of the countdown to CAS and also to avoid being censured by the Indian government. According to Prasar Bharati officials, turning of DD Sports into a FTA channel is bound to send positive signals to advertisers who have forked out Rs 880 million for the upcoming triangular series cricket featuring India, New Zealand and Australia. In addition, it is also likely to get more viewers for the first Afro-Asian Games to be held in Hyderabad in October.

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