Lanka Tri-series: SC rules Ten Sports' need not share feed with DD

MUMBAI: The Supreme Court today ruled in favour of Taj Television, owner of Ten Sports, while restraining pubcaster Prasar Bharati from interfering with the live transmission of the upcoming Sri Lanka tri-series involving India as well.

India, South Africa and hosts Sri Lanka will figure in the one-day tri-series to be played from 14 to 29 August on the island nation.

The ruling of the court, valid for the next three months, is not restricted only to cricket but also includes forthcoming major hockey (women's Champions Trophy and World Cup) and the US Open tennis tournament that Ten Sports holds telecast rights to.

While delivering its verdict, the apex court applied a similar yardstick to the one it had used ahead of India's tour to the West Indies in early May. It had then ordered that Ten Sports had exclusive telecast rights to the series and need not share it with the pubcaster.

Dubai-headquartered Taj Television had in its original petition on the matter sought a stay on the government guidelines making it mandatory for sports channels to share feed of sporting events of national importance with Prasar Bharati.

It also contended that the court should be guided by the earlier verdict in the India-Pakistan series wherein DD was just a carrier of the Ten Sports signals on its terrestrial network and had also deposited a sum of Rs 150 million in the court towards possible compensation to Ten Sports.

The matter was heard by a Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice Markandey Katju. The Bench had earlier issued notices to the information and broadcasting ministry and Prasar Bharati on Ten Sports' plea.

In its plea, Ten Sports contended that it had acquired exclusive live telecast rights for all these events. In particular, it had acquired rights for the tri-series for four years from the Sri Lankan Cricket Board at a cost of about Rs 2.18 billion.

It is worth noting that Ten Sports' rights to Sri Lanka cricket, which it has held since 1 January 2004, comes to a close on to 31 December 2006.

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