Television

Pvt channels lift exclusive footage: DD News may seek damages

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NEW DELHI: Prasar Bharati has taken strong exception to the fact that private satellite news channels relayed almost in full Doordarshan News' exclusive coverage of the Congress Parliamentary Party's stormy meet, held on Parliament campus, on 18 May and a press conference the next day without seeking a formal clearance from India's pubcaster.

Pointing out that such action on the part of the private news channels amounted to a breach of "professional ethics," DD News in a letter sent to private TV channels today said it raises "serious copyright issues."Threatening to take legal action, DD has further stated in its letter, "Under the circumstances, do we conclude that DD too has the freedom to relay any exclusive telecast carried on your channel in asimilar manner in the near future?"

Private satellite news channels, of course, are attempting to play down the issue. A senior executive of a private news channel retorted, "The relay of DD News' coverage of events being referred to was done after due courtesy was given. Moreover, since the happenings took place very fast, a formal clearance could not be taken, but the whole coverage was relayed in public interest."

The letter signed by the head of DD News has been sent to the likes of Zee News, Star News, both the NDTV channels and Aaj Tak. However, attempts made by indiantelevision.com to elicit a formal response from the news channels proved futile. For example, a spokesperson for Aaj Tak said that he was not aware of the DD News letter and if it were true, the company's legal department would have to be consulted before a response could be handed out.

The stridency in DD News approach stems from the fact that its status as a pubcaster gives it exclusive rights to televise coverage of events from within the premises of Parliament, a fact that has been contested several times in the past by private TV channels on occasions like presentation of the annual country's Budget by the finance minister.

Pointing out that the "unprofessional" behaviour of the private news channels was also being brought to the notice of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), an apex body broadcasters operating in India, DD has demanded monetary compensation for the carriage of its exclusive coverage.

"Separate bill of an appropriate amount (for carrying and relaying DD News' coverage) are being raised in this regard. It is being hoped that you would take immediate steps to deposit the requisite amount to DD," the letter from Prasar Bharati states.

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