NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has brought to an abrupt halt pubcaster
Doordarshan's "unfettered acess" to coverage of the India
cricket team's tours abroad.
In a ruling that will for the present hold only for the forthcoming
West Indies tour by the Indian cricket team, the apex court ordered
today that Ten Sports has exclusive telecast rights to the series
and need not share it with the pubcaster.
A two-judge Bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice LK
Panta directed that Prasar Bharati (which manages DD) will not take
any coercive step or action for taking the live feed of the matches,
a Press Trust of India report said.
India is scheduled to play five one-day matches and four Tests
in the Caribbean in a tour that kicks off with the first ODI on
The court, according to one of the parties involved in the case, said
that the clause in the downlink guidelines relating to making available
feeds of all events of national importance to DD on a mandatory basis
lacks proper legal teeth.
In the absence of a detailed and written order, which will be issued
later by the court, the ramification of this order cannot be fully
gauged in terms of the overall downlink guidelines, which is being
sought to be implemented by the government from 10 May by when all
stipulations have to be fulfilled by a channel to get landing rights
"Going by what the court has said DD will have to do without
the West Indies tour, but the ruling is limited to only Ten Sports
and the cricket tour concerned for the present," DD director-general
Navin Kumar told Indiantelevision.com.
Asked if DD will be restrained from carrying French Open tennis,
for which Ten Sports holds exclusive rights for the region, Kumar
added, "I suppose Ten Sports will have to move a separate application
in the court for that. We cannot comment at the moment on what will
be our future course of action."
Last week, Dubai-headquartered Ten Sports had moved the court arguing
that if interim relief was not granted to it this time round, a
judgment of the court delivered before the recent Indo-Pak series
would become infructuous.
Taj Television Ltd, owner of Ten Sports, had
in its original petition on the matter sought a stay on the government guidelines
making it mandatory for the 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.
Ten had said it has already sold distribution rights of the West
Indies tour to Set Discovery Pvt Ltd, which will have the right
to license throughout the country.
The Bench had given an inkling on its thinking on the matter at
the last hearing itself in actual fact. During the brief hearing
last Friday, the Bench observed that last time it was a series with
Pakistan and "matches of Indo-Pak series are different from
the others." It added, "For West Indies, many people may
not be interested."
Ten Sports moves SC against Prasar Bharati over Windies series telecast