HC allows private news channels 7 minutes cricket footage

MUMBAI: Private news channels have won themselves a significant hike in the amount of footage they can air of the ongoing India-South Africa cricket series.

The Delhi High Court has upped the time limit to seven minutes from the two minutes that telecast rights holder Prasar Bharati had decreed that TV channels were entitled to.

However, there is a rider that no commercials will be telecast before, during or after the footage has been aired by private TV channels.

This is a major victory for the private news channels because on 28 October the pubcaster had obtained an interim injunction from the court against TV channels using more than the set limit of cricket footage per day.

The court also directed setting up of a technical committee to examine the issue and submit a report to it by 12 December, the next date of hearing.

Pertinently, the court ruled that the committee "shall not be influenced by the present set of guidelines issued by Prasar Bharati or the government for the use of Doordarshans footage of the matches, except legislative enactments," news agency UNI reported.

The technical committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on 5 December.

The order will remain in force till disposal of the case, the court has said.

The case pertains to an assertion by the pubcaster that it had the exclusive rights from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to telecast the matches and that some news channels were violating the terms it had laid down for usage of its footage.

Sahara Samay, Asianet News, ETV2, India TV and TV9 were the news channels Prasar Bharati accused of being in breach of the terms.

While arguing the case on Thursday, India TV's counsel Pratibha Singh had pointed out that whereas the private news channels were restrained, Doordarshan News was allowed to use about 120 minutes of footage even though it was not in the purview of the contract.

''The use of footage by the news channels in their news bulletins does not amount to infringement of copyright, but is a bonafide act of fair dealing and fair use,'' Singh had asserted.

The prescribed norms as stipulated by Prasar Bharati were that no TV channel can use more than two minutes a day of cricket visuals from matches being aired on DD in any programme or news bulletin. The DD-laid down conditions also barred a TV channel from mounting a cricket-related show using such footage from the ongoing series.

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