Television

Ten Sports files case against I&B ministry on content sharing; hearing on 12 Dec

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MUMBAI: Ten Sports has done it again by going to court against the government / pubcaster Prasar Bharati over telecast rights issue.

Dubai-based Taj TV Limited, which owns Ten Sports, has filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court challenging a government move on making it mandatory for private sports channels to share listed sporting events with pubcaster Doordarshan.

This development comes close on the heels of the government issuing new downlinking guidelines on 11 November that has tightened the screws on private sports channels having rights to cricket matches.

Ten Sports holds the rights of the India - Pakistan one-day international series scheduled to be held in January-February 2006. Any Indo-Pak cricketing encounter is a money spinner for broadcasters.

In its petition, Ten Sports has alleged acquisition costs of such events run into millions of dollars and sharing feed with Doordarshan would mean a loss for the broadcaster in advertising and subscription revenue.

The case is expected to come up for hearing before a division bench comprising Justices Ranjana Desai and A.S. Oka on 12 December in Mumbai.

The downlinking norms allow DD to keep 25 per cent of the revenue generated from marketing such shared events on its networks, while the rest goes to the private broadcaster holding that event's rights.

In the case of Indo-Pak cricket matches in Pakistan, the rights holder will be Ten Sports.

Ten Sports also petitioned in the court that it has sold close to 90 per cent of its ad inventory for the Indo-Pak series much before 11 November.

"Sharing the feed with DD after collecting advertising revenues would amount to a breach of trust of the clients, since they had paid higher sums for exclusive telecast on Ten Sports," the petition said.

Ten Sports has alleged that with the new downlinking norms, government's intention was to enable Prasar Bharati to make profits.

Ten Sports' petition mentioned that if it shared feed with DD, it would incur a minimum loss of Rs 200 million in fixed fee under the distribution agreement.

However, at this moment, no other private sector TV channel has come forward to join issues with Ten Sports against government norms.

A sports broadcaster told Indiantelevision.com that it will "wait and see the outcome of the event or the turns the Ten case takes."

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