Supreme Court to hear Cricket World Cup live telecasts appeal in July

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has directed that the special leave petition to appeal by Prasar Bharati against the order of the Delhi High Court with regard to World Cup Cricket telecasts will come up for hearing on a Tuesday in July “in view of the importance of the matter.”


According to the order of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant, which became available today, the Court said ‘we are of the view that the interim order passed earlier to the effect that the impugned order dated 4 February of the High Court shall remain suspended should continue until further orders.’


The judges also said, “It is our considered view that at this stage we ought not to consider the submissions made on behalf of the parties on the merits of the controversy as the same may have the effect of prejudicing either of the parties.”


However, the Court said it was ‘not inclined’ to consider the suggestion made by Star Sports that Doordarshan should set up an extra/special channel, which has been contended by Prasar Bharati to be unviable and technically unfeasible within any reasonable period of time.


“Though an offer has been made on behalf of respondent No. 4 (Star India) to make available its expertise and personnel to aid Prasar Bharati, we are not inclined to consider the said offer made on behalf of the respondent. The first suggestion put forward therefore does not merit acceptance,” the Court said.


On the second suggestion about putting up a scroll to the effect that “the channel displaying the sports event (concerned ICC World Cup 2015 matches) is meant only for Doordarshan,” the Court said, ‘acceptance of the said suggestion would be understanding the provisions of Section 3 of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007 and Section 8 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act 1995 in a particular manner, which is not warranted at this stage of the proceedings. We, therefore, decline to accept the said second suggestion advanced on behalf of the respondents.’


Meanwhile, the judges said the parties may exchange pleadings, if required.


In an additional affidavit filed at the instance of the apex court, Star India had said that it was losing around Rs 290 crore every year by sharing its sports signals with Doordarshan every year and was expecting to lose around Rs 120 crore by sharing the telecast of the World Cup this year. (Under the Act, the rights holder gets 75 per cent of the revenue from the telecast on DD which keeps the balance 25 per cent.)


On the suggestion by Star Sports that DD should run a separate channel without the signals of the World Cup for cable operators or run a scroll that the World Cup telecasts are not meant for cable operators, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had pointed out that DD had 1400 transmitters all over the country of which most were unmanned and it was technically not feasible for DD to run a separate channel.


The Delhi High Court had declined to set aside the must carry clause as well as the Act of 2007 in its judgment.



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