The government has dropped the idea of framing a stand-alone legislation on sport telecast rights, it is learnt.
Following the controversy over sharing of Indo-Pak cricket telecast feed a few months ago, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, under the NDA government, had indicated its willingness to go for a sport rights legislation. Such a legislation was meant to help public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati acquire terrestrial rights for events (mainly sports) of national importance. Among other countries, UK has a legislation, which gives its public broadcaster the privilege to telecast sport events of national relevance.
Now, with the change in government in India, the focus is on getting the Broadcasting Bill in place. Provisions for sport rights may be included as part of the Broadcasting Bill, which is likely to be tabled during the Winter session of Parliament, government sources indicated.
Officials in the I&B ministry had started studying international laws relating to sport rights for framing a legislation on the same, after the Indo-Pak cricket telecast controversy. Although Dubai-based Ten Sports had the exclusive telecast rights to the Indo-Pak series, Prasar Bharati wanted to beam it on its Doordarshan channel as well, in order to reach the masses. The Supreme Court had ordered Ten Sports to share the Indo-Pak cricket feed with DD, but the case is still in the court.
According to a source in the government, I&B minister S Jaipal Reddy has given a go-ahead to his officials to draft the Broadcasting Bill. Six years ago, when Mr Reddy was the I&B minister in the United Front government, the Broadcasting Authority Bill was tabled in Parliament. But, it couldn’t be passed.
Mr Reddy, just after he took over as the minister last month, had indicated that he’s in favour of a full-time regulator for the broadcasting sector, rather than have an ad hoc arrangement with the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). Trai got the additional responsibilities of the broadcasting sector a few months ago, when government got into a mess over the introduction of the conditional access system (CAS).