Should sports broadcasting law be changed to enable Doordarshan to stream top sporting events on its OTT platforms, in addition to its terrestrial and DTH networks on free to air basis?
The question will be answered by Madras high court, which is slated to deliver its verdict on the issue on Monday.
The first bench of Chief Justice S P Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad has made its judgment on a PIL filed by a sound engineer, Aditya Modi, who has raised the firm question against the legality of certain provisions of the Sports Broadcasting Act that restrict Prasar Bharti to re-transmit live-broadcast sports events of national importance only through its DTH networks but not through other mediums of broadcast available on free-to-air basis, including OTT (Over The Top) platforms and cable operators.
Due to widespread use of smartphone with the access of low priced internet data, especially in rural India, a person is able to keep a track of ongoing events. One is also able to carry a streaming device wherever he travels, they can also stream any event on the streaming device with ease at any place.
“However, due to heavy subscription charges made by the private OTT players, who have rights to broadcast for big sporting events, millions of citizens are missing out on such entertainment due to the embargo placed on Prasar Bharti by the legislature,” said Karthik Seshadri.
To which PIL-petitioner Modi added, ‘’Viewers who do not have access to or use of such networks, are either unable to watch these sporting events of national importance or compelled to watch such sporting events on highly priced sports channels, thwarting the very objective of the Act,”
Prasar Bharti does provide OTT services and telecasts Doordarshan channels on free-to-air basis. However, due to non-inclusion of OTT platform in the law, Prasar Bharti is unable to stream such sporting events on its OTT platform, thereby depriving millions of citizens access to live feed of such events, counsel for the petitioner Karthik Seshadri said.
Therefore, Doordarshan should be allowed to re-transmit such events on its OTT platforms and through cable operators/other networks, Seshadri argued.