Delayed feed: I&B issues showcause to Nimbus

NEW DELHI: The information & broadcasting ministry has issued a notice to Nimbus Communications to show cause why Neo Sports owned by it has failed to comply with the provisions of the ordinance issued recently for mandatory sharing of live sports feed with Prasar Bharati.

Nimbus Communications has been given time till tomorrow to reply to the notice, which was issued yesterday, failing which the government is "free to take action as permissible under the ordinance". The showcause was issued on the orders of I&B minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.

What has irked the mandarins in the ministry is that for the ongoing One-Day International series involving Sri Lanka, as well as the earlier one that pitted the Boys in Blue against the West Indies, DD has been forced to telecast the matches with a seven minute delayed feed.

The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Ordinance 2007 has a clause embedded in it that states that television channels that fail to comply with the terms of the ordinance for compulsory sharing of live feeds with the national broadcaster Prasar Bharati would have to pay a penalty up to Rs 10 million and also face possible revocation or suspension of license.

The ordinance promulgated on 3 February has retrospective affect from 11 November, 2005, which was when the government had issued its guidelines for downlinking of TV channels. The Uplinking Guidelines had been issued on 12 December, 2005. It has also been stipulated that no action of the government could be challenged in any court of law.

With the Guidelines coming in the ambit of the Ordinance which is expected to be replaced by an Act of Parliament in the ensuing Budget session, the government has taken upon itself the powers to enforce them with retrospective effect. The guidelines are already the subject matter of two petitions in the Delhi High Court.

It may be recalled that the Delhi High Court had on 12 February refused to stay the operation of the ordinance asking private sports channels to share live feed of cricket and other sports events with the pubcaster.

A High Court division bench headed by Justice Vikramajit Sen has posted the matter for further hearing tomorrow.

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