Television

Ten Sports moves SC on cricket rights

NEW DELHI: Like Banquo's ghost, the cricket rights issue has returned to haunt cricket administrators, broadcasters and the general public in India.

Even as Sachin Tendulkar is presently warming up to the Pakistan winter, Dubai-headquartered Ten Sports has moved the Indian Supreme Court, again, seeking a stay on government norms making it mandatory for the sports channels to share feed of sporting events of national importance with Prasar Bharati.

The petition filed by Taj Television Ltd, parent of Ten Sports that holds exclusive rights for cricket matches to be played in Pakistan, terms government guideline arbitrary without the authority of the law, Press Trust of India reported on Sunday.

The sports channel has challenged in Supreme Court a Bombay High Court order refusing it any relief by which it has been compelled to share the live feed of an Indo-Pakistan cricket series commencing from 13 January.

The Bombay High Court admitted a petition filed by Ten Sports in November last, but had refused to grant any interim relief and adjourned the hearing till further order.

The Indian cricket team has already reached Pakistan and is playing its first practice match.

According to the PTI report, Prasar Bharati has also filed a caveat to pre-empt Ten Sport from taking any ex-parte interim order against the Bombay high court order.

In its petition in SC, listed for hearing on Monday (9 January, 2006), Ten Sports has contended that New Delhi cannot take away its right that was acquired in a foreign country.

The guidelines state that sports channels will share their feed with Prasar Bharati for "national and international sporting events of national importance" in India or abroad.

In case of cricket matches it will include all matches involving India. More importantly, in case of cricket, guidelines are to operate retrospectively, that is, covering events for which broadcasting rights have been already bought.

Interestingly, ESPN Star Sports too moved the Delhi high court late last year challenging the downlink guidelines on sharing sports content with DD.

In 2004, when India toured Pakistan after 14 years, Ten Sports had moved the SC against sharing the feed with Doordarshan, managed by Prasar Bharati.

That case is still pending a final observation from the SC, though the 2004 series was also shown on DD, which carried Ten Sports signals, including advertisements booked by the Dubai-headquartered channel.

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