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Indo–Pak World Cup match to be available on DD to cable ops as SC stays Delhi HC order

MUMBAI: The India-Pakistan World Cup match will be available on Doordarshan to the cable operators, courtesy a Supreme Court interim order. The Supreme Court has stayed the Delhi High Court order that restrained Doordarshan from sharing live feed of the event with cable TV operators till further hearing on 17 February. India plays Pakistan on 15 February.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Pinaki Chandra Ghose said that the arrangement of DD showing free feed had been there for the last seven years and therefore it should continue.

Initially, the bench adjourned the case by six weeks stating that “World Cups will come and go”. However, Star India counsel P Chidambaram prayed that the matter be heard before the end of the tournament.

The bench obliged and put up the matter for hearing on 17 February, thereby ensuring that cricket fans without the Star Sports channels do not miss out on the mother of all matches, India versus Pakistan, on 15 February.

During the hearing, Chidambaram told the court that the high court passed an order in his client’s favour after seven long years and that he expected the balance of equity to remain in their favour so that the cricket matches are not aired on television freely.

He also said that his client has several proposals for consideration by the court.

The news of Supreme Court staying the Delhi HC order brought relief to particularly small cable TV operators. The Star Sports channels are available only on RIO (Reference Interconnect Offer) basis. Star India has also provided a slew of incentives in its amended RIO for cable TV platforms.

Earlier, Prasar Bharati had challenged the HC judgment, contending that it is virtually unworkable and is contrary to Section 3 of Sports Act and Section 8 of the Cable TV Networks Act.

The bench of Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva had passed an order stating that live broadcasting signal under the mandatory sharing act can only be re-transmitted by Prasar Bharati on its own networks; the pubcaster cannot share live broadcasting signal of events of national importance like the cricket World Cup with cable operators.

The bench had agreed with the contention of the petitioners, Star India and BCCI, that the objective of Section 3 of the Sports Act is essentially directed at those citizens who do not have access to cable television and only have access to the terrestrial and DTH platform of Prasar Bharati.

Star also argued that the mandatory sharing of feed with Prasar Bharati was leading to substantial revenue loss.

According to the broadcaster, the sharing of live feed with cable operators through Doordarshan has resulted in a subscription loss of Rs 970 crore (Rs 9.7 billion) and a loss of advertising revenue to the tune of Rs 245 crore (Rs 2.45 billion) since 2007.

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