Television

No differences on content sharing: Reddy

NEW DELHI: Information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy today said that the uplink and the proposed downlink laws will be taken to the Union Cabinet for fresh review “in a few weeks time.”

Addressing a news conference here today, Reddy said, “The group of ministers’ (GoM) report has been finalised and it will be taken to the Cabinet for an approval in a few weeks time.”

 
 
 

Earlier, when the same proposals, framed by the I&B ministry, had been taken up by the Union Cabinet for discussion in July, certain clauses on sports content sharing on a mandatory basis with the Indian pubcaster had raised a stink.

Subsequently, the proposed legislation was referred for review to a GoM, headed by defence minister Pranab Mukherjee.

 
 
 

Interestingly, an interaction between some of the members of the GoM and the industry, under the aegis of an apex chamber of commerce, is scheduled tomorrow.

Though Reddy was cagey about detailing anything, he, however, denied differences within the GoM on any issue.

Asked by Indiantelevision.com whether the clause relating to content sharing has been diluted, on the insistence of other ministers, Reddy said, “It should suffice that there are no differences.”

Still, some media reports, including Indiantelevision.com, had stated earlier that sports content would have to be shared with Doordarshan, but for events that are signed up by private broadcasters after the law comes into force. Indiantelevision.com’s report was based on conversation with a

member of the GoM after a meeting of the group earlier this month.

A clause in the proposed downlink law and the to-be-amended uplink guidelines states that all listed sports events, held within and outside the country, would have to be shared with DD for all its services, terrestrial and DTH, on a mandatory basis by private broadcasters if they have the telecast rights.

While pushing for such a law, the government and DD had argued that similar legislation exist in the UK and Australia too.

Still, it would be interesting for the GoM to note that the British

newspaper, The Guardian, on 14 September reported the UK government will review listed (sports) events, which are guaranteed to be shown on free-to-air terrestrial channels, around 2008-09 only. Rupert Murdoch-controlled Sky's exclusive ?220m cricket deal, which begins next year, expires in 2009.

The Guardian quoted British culture secretary Tessa Jowell as saying, "It is important to be absolutely clear that Sky won that competition in a completely proper and transparent way."

The last review of the listed events in the UK was carried out in 1998, when cricket was moved to a B-list, which guaranteed only terrestrial highlights.

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