The Delhi High Court has granted a stay to ESPN-STAR Sports in favour of its application for a civil suit filed against 92 cable operators across the country for unauthorised broadcast of the FIFA World Cup, restraining all the cable operators from showing the matches through any channel other than ESPN-STAR Sports. The channel has an exclusive deal with FIFA to telecast all the matches of the 2006 World Cup in India.
“No other channel, whether pay, free-to-air or terrestrial, is authorised to provide, show or distribute the 2006 FIFA World Cup in the territory of India. Also carriage, reception or distribution of the World Cup by any MSO, cable operator, sub-operator without written authorisation from ESPN-STAR Sports is a violation of copyrights and hence, an illegal activity. Strict and legal action will be taken against the operators who violate the court orders. Post the order; police raids have already been started,” said Rajesh Kaul, Associate Vice-President, Affiliate Sales, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd.
The 92 cable operators across the country were broadcasting by means of wireless diffusion the services of free-to-air international channels like TV 5 Cambodia TV, CC5 Channel, CCTV1, Super Sports, Multi-choice and Dream Satellite, thereby infringing the copyright of ESPN-STAR Sports.
After an application in the Delhi High Court, the Court has restrained these operators from carrying and distributing the World Cup by any means whatsoever, without authorised permission from ESPN-STAR Sports.
The 92 cable operators restrained from the unauthorised telecast are from Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Assam, Tripura, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar and Punjab.
The sports broadcaster has introduced special production and programming initiatives for the Indian audiences for the telecast of the mega football tournament. Detailing on the production initiatives, Kaul said, “To start with, we have established a distinguished and enriched studio panel of presenters for the World Cup. Gerry Armstrong, ex-Irish international and a soccer expert with ESPN-STAR Sports; Steve McMahon, ex-England and Liverpool player; and sports presenter Harsha Bhogle will also be on the ESPN-STAR Sports’ panel for the World Cup.”
The sports network is also having a special Hindi feed for traditional markets in India during the FIFA World Cup.