The row between ESPN STAR Sports and Doordarshan over telecast of commercials during the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 has come to an end with the Delhi High Court ordering ESPN to provide live signals to the public broadcaster without any commercials.
The dispute arose when ESPN insisted that the ads are aired during the telecast of the cricket tournament on Doordarshan, since the International Cricket Committee (ICC) has started a new rule of continuing the ads while sending the signals and re-transmitting them.
On the other hand, Doordarshan contested ESPN’s arguments, maintaining that it wants only a clean feed as the public broadcaster is not allowed to show ads from other feeds as per the Sports Broadcasting Act, 2007. DD also told the court that it can telecast ads during appropriate breaks to sustain the economics of the telecast.
The matter was taken to the Delhi High Court. Prasar Bharati was represented by AS Chandiok (ASG) and Paras Kuhad (ASG), along with Standing Counsel Rajeev Sharma and others, while ESPN was represented by Abhishek Manu Singhvi and team.
After hearing the arguments from both the parties, the Court directed ESPN to provide “live signals, which would be clean without any commercials to Doordarshan so that Doordarshan would be able to telecast the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 as per commitment and object of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act 2007 (11 of 2007).”
The Court stated, “This is to emphasise that in terms of the Sports Act, 2007, the feed provided to DD by the rights holder has to be clean without any commercials. Doordarshan is not in a position to share live signal which is not clean as it amounts to violation of the Sports Act.”
Meanwhile, the pleadings in the matter are yet to be completed. An interim application as well as writ petition is to be listed before the roster Bench on July 12, 2013 without expressing any opinion on merit at this stage.
“Till the next date, we direct that the petitioner to provide live signals which would be clean without any commercial whatsoever, whether those of the petitioner, ICC or any other entity, to Doordarshan,” the Delhi High Court said in its order.
Commenting on the entire matter, Jawhar Sircar, CEO, Prasar Bharati said, “Where we are concerned, we have decided to telecast the tournament without any advertisements at all, and this may be interesting information for all TV viewers in India, that is, watch cricket without interruption.”
When contacted, ESPN refused to comment on the issue as the Court has already given the order and matches are airing live on Doordarshan.
The ICC Champions Trophy 2013 is taking place from June 6 to June 23.