Regulators

Telecast row: all eyes on SC now

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NEW DELHI: After the day started like a Sehwag-Sachin hurricane inning with developments happening fast in the first 15 overs of the match, as the day progressed, the run rate had slowed down. Though government officials were in a meeting with the attorney-general in the evening, the sign of an out-of-court settlement receded in the background.

Pointing out that there were signs of an out of court settlement earlier in the day, a government source admitted, "Now both the parties seem to be waiting for a verdict from the Supreme Court."The source also indicated that if any settlement is to be worked out by the two warring factions at this juncture --- that needs to be conveyed to the apex court --- it would have to be done within the framework of any direction that SC sets.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India, would take up tomorrow for another round of hearing a Special Leave Petition filed by Taj Sports India Pvt. Ltd., which pertains to telecast rights of the ongoing Indo-Pakistan cricket series in the light of a Chennai high court verdict that said signals should be made available to pubcaster Doordarshan.

The government source, while admitting that "sanctity of contractual obligations need to be honoured," added in the same vein that there had been "no strong reciprocity from their (Ten's) side" to come to an understanding with DD.

Taj Sports India, through its representatives, have reiterated over the last few days that a offer was made to DD, which was turned down.

The offer envisaged having the match feeds from a satellite that did not go across many countries and that would be downlinked to low power transmitters through decoder boxes supplied by ten to cater to areas where cable penetration is low. In the metros and other big cities, the satellite signals from Ten Sports would have to be distributed by cable operators.

The government source, on its part, insisted that government intervention should not be read as "bullying tactics" as the cricket series has been "facilitated by the governments of India and Pakistan." The source added: "The problem is not so insurmountable."

In a surprising move, today morning Taj TV Ltd. Struck a conciliatory note when its owner AR Bukhatir said that he hoped Indians would get to watch all the matches --- a stand in sharp contrast to the stridency shown yesterday by Taj's Indian associates who had spoken about a possibility of blacking out the total Indian region for Tuesday's match.

It is learn that Prasar Bharati board, during its meeting on Friday in Mumbai, has okayed a proposal wherein DD can offer up to $ 15 million for terrestrial rights of the cricket matches.

Now, all eyes are on SC when it pronounces a verdict tomorrow. The judgement is likely to become a guiding force for similar cases related to telecast rights in future.

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