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SC reserves verdict, Prasar Bharati says can’t run WC matches on new channel

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has reserved the verdict on pubcaster Prasar Bharati’s plea against the Delhi High Court order barring Doordarshan from sharing live feed of cricket World Cup matches with private cable TV and DTH operators.

Prasar Bharati, during the hearing, told the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Prafulla C Pant that it can’t create a separate channel for broadcasting the matches.

In the earlier hearing, the bench had sought Prasar Bharati’s response to Star India’s suggestion of carrying live feed of ICC cricket World Cup matches on a separate channel that is available only to the pubcaster’s terrestrial and Freedish subscribers.

Star India counsel P Chidambaram had proposed that a new channel could be started by Prasar Bharati for showing ICC World Cup matches to ensure that private cable operators do not get the live feed.

He contended that the pubcaster had done the same thing for the Commonwealth Games last year wherein the games were aired on DD News.

Moreover, Star counsel had also suggested that Doordarshan should run a scroll on that channel stating that private cable and DTH operators should not carry this feed.

Appearing for the Centre and Prasar Bharati, Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi had said that it is mandatory for a private channel under the Sports Act and the Cable TV Network Act to share feeds of matches of ‘national importance’ with Prasar Bharati for providing it on DD’s terrestrial channels.

Rohtagi had also said that it is not feasible to start a new channel for showing few World Cup matches.

“This is a proper case for grant of absolute stay. This court had said that cricket is like a religion in this country and millions of fellow citizens cannot be deprived of watching matches involving Team India. The legal provisions are very clear and do not provide for the scope of any balancing. There is no scope of any interference,” the Attorney General said.

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