New Delhi: The government on Monday moved the Supreme Court (SC) challenging a Delhi high court (HC) judgement barring Prasar Bharati from sharing with cable operators through Doordarshan (DD) channels the live feed of the 2015 ICC (International Cricket Council) World Cup, of which ESPN and Star have exclusive broadcasting rights.
The appeals filed by the centre and Prasar Bharati was mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu, which fixed it for hearing on Tuesday. Attorney-general (AG) Mukul Rohatgi, who will argue the matter, said the high court verdict was not only against the mandate of the Sports Act and Cable TV Network Act but was also contrary to public interest.
The AG said among the grounds taken in the petition, it has been argued that it was mandatory under laws for the private channels to share the feeds with Prasar Bharati for providing it on DD’s free-to-air terrestrial channels. The appeal is against the 4 February judgement of the high court which was passed on the plea of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), ESPN and Star which had contended that cable TV operators were getting live feeds through DD channels free of cost, resulting in loss of revenue for them.
The high court had also observed that while advertisement revenue received by DD in respect of the shared content of the sports channels was to be shared in the ratio of not less than 75:25, “it still does not cater to the loss of subscription revenue” by ESPN and Star. It had, however, rejected their additional prayers to strike down Section 3 of the Sports Act, which makes it mandatory for them to share with Prasar Bharati the live feed of sporting events of national importance.
It had also refused to grant relief of striking down a year 2000 notification issued by Prasar Bharati which made it mandatory for cable operators to carry DD National and DD news channels.