Cricket: SC comes to Ten Sports rescue

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today poured cold water on pubcaster Doordarshan’s efforts to arm-twist the terrestrial feed from Ten Sports for the upcoming tri-series cricket in Sri Lanka that begins Saturday.

In a short hearing today, the apex court restrained the Kerala High Court from passing any order on a petition seeking sharing of the live telecast feed of the Indian Oil Cup tri-series by Ten Sports with Doordarshan.

The Kerala High Court was today scheduled to hear a public interest litigation, filed by two "cricket enthusiasts", seeking judicial direction to Ten Sports to share its cricket feed with DD as the satellite sports channel was not widely available on cable networks in the state of Kerala.

The apex court, while refusing to pass any directive in a matter involving Ten Sports and DD, also said that no other court could take up any cricket related case involving the two parties as a similar case was already pending a final order from the Supreme Court.

The next date of hearing in the SC, which was moved by the Dubai-based broadcaster yesterday, is 8 August, by when most of the matches in Sri Lanka would in any case be over and done with.

India, Sri Lanka and West Indies are participating in The Indian Oil Cup series from 30 July - 9 August.

However, in a gesture which upholds understanding of the nuances of the game in a cricket crazy country like India, the Supreme Court observed that Ten and DD, if they so wish, could thrash out their present differences amicably without any fear of judicial interference.

Officials of Prasar Bharati, which control DD and All India Radio, maintained a studied silence today after the court directive, saying, “We are studying other options.”

Ten Sports expressed happiness at the turn of events, maintaining that it has full faith in the judicial system of the country.

Earlier, Ten Sports (rights holder of Lankan cricket) and DD have been involved in a slanging match over sharing of terrestrial feed with both the parties rejecting offers made by the other.

In a written reply to a Ten Sports communiqué to Prasar Bharati on commercial interests of the private broadcaster being hit if the live feed from Sri Lanka were shared with the pubcaster, DD had obliquely threatened that “hoarding” of terrestrial rights by Ten when it doesn’t have a terrestrial network was tantamount to working against the interests of Indian public.

Meanwhile, the Kerala High Court today adjourned a writ petition seeking telecast of the cricket tri-series, beginning in Sri Lanka on Saturday, by Doordarshan following the stay order of the Supreme Court, United News of India reported from Kochi.

When the matter came up before the division bench, comprising Chief Justice Rajiv Gupta and Justice KS Radhakrishnan, senior counsel TP Kelu Nambiar, appearing on behalf of Ten Sports, informed the court that the apex court had stayed the proceedings in the petition filed by Ten Sports to transfer the PIL from the high court to the Supreme Court.

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