Television

MSM moves to court over exclusive media rights for IND-NZ cric series

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MUMBAI: Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) sports arm Sony Six bagged the exclusive broadcast rights for the highly anticipated India’s tour of New Zealand just 10 days prior to the first match.

However, after the first One Day International (ODI) which was played at Napier on 19 January where the Kiwis decimated the boys in blue by a margin of 24 runs, MSM discovered that few website operators and a radio operator were providing live and contemporaneous text and audio commentary and detailed ball-by-ball update of the match without obtaining any authorisation from MSM.

While ESPNCricinfo was providing live and simultaneous text commentary over the internet, Cricbuzz was providing audio and text commentary online, and RadioOne was providing audio commentary through internet and mobile. Since the Network has exclusive copyright over the content, MSM moved the Delhi High Court (HC) against these three entities seeking inter alia for permanent injunction restraining violation of its exclusive media rights, damages and rendition of accounts.

The New Zealand Cricket Board had granted exclusive media rights including television, internet, mobile and data rights pertaining to the India tour of New Zealand cricket matches series being played in January/February 2014 to Multi Screen Media along with its affiliates (MSM) for telecast in the Indian subcontinent.

MSM general counsel Ashok Nambissan says, “We are happy that the Hon’ble High Court has granted us an injunction preventing the flagrant violation of the exclusivity of our rights in the ongoing cricket series between India and New Zealand. These rights are acquired at great cost in our efforts to bring international sports events live to our viewers. We will continue to be vigilant and take action as per law to protect our rights.”

The above-mentioned matter came up before Justice GS Sistani of the Delhi High Court on 21 January, 2014. Upon hearing the submissions made on behalf of MSM, the Judge - plaintiff - issued a notice to the operators (ESPNCricinfo, Cricbuzz and RadioOne) - defendants - and passed an ex-parte ad-interim orders.

The relevant portion of the aforementioned order reads as below:-

“Accordingly, defendant, its agents, servants, employees are restrained from:

* Making available, through any medium whatsoever, live/contemporaneous audio commentary of the matches played in the cricket series between India-New Zealand;

* Exploiting or authorising the exploitation of cricket match-related material/information/details including but not limited to current cricket score, ball-by-ball updates, score cards, score updates, alerts etc, contemporaneous with match situations/events, as they happen in relation to the matches played in the cricket series between India- New Zealand.”

The Delhi High Court has directed these websites and radio channel to obtain licenses from MSM if they wish to provide live commentary on their websites and apps and/or provide score updates, scorecards or any other match information.

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