The Delhi High Court on Friday restrained five television channels - Sahara TV Network Pvt Ltd, Asianet Communication Ltd, Eenadu TV Network, India TV, and TV9 - from telecasting the footage of the ongoing India-Sri Lanka cricket series on their channels for more than 30 seconds in a single bulletin, subject to a maximum of two minutes per day.
On a petition filed by Prasar Bharati, alleging infringement of its contractual rights with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Justice Swatantra Kumar, while passing an ex-parte injunction, said these TV channels would not utilise the footage of the current one-day series played between India and Sri Lanka in excess of the stipulated period as per terms.
Before the start of the series, Prasar Bharati had sent letters to the respondents, asking them to respect the rights of the broadcaster and not air footage more than 30 seconds per bulletin and two minutes per day.
According to its terms and conditions, match footage can be utilised free of cost for regular scheduled news bulletins for a duration not exceeding 30 seconds per news bulletin subject to total footage not
exceeding two minutes per day.
Prasar Bharati, which had bought the rights to telecast the series for a valuable consideration, was obliged to pay Rs 7.5 crore to the BCCI per one-day international match. "The only manner in which Prasar Bharati can cover its costs and hope to generate a profit is by way of utilisation of the commercial time generated during the telecast, i.e. by booking advertisements for consideration and telecasting them," said counsels A S Chandihoke and Rajiv Sharma appearing for Prasar Bharati.To ensure that footage was not being utilised unauthorisedly, Prasar Bharti had appointed Television Audience Measurement (TAM) to monitor the telecast of the cricket footage by various channels on October 25, the day India and Sri Lanka played their first one-day match at Nagpur.
The submission was produced before the court on the basis of recordings of the clippings by TAM, the petitioner said.
According to TAM, the defendant TV channels had used the footage on October 25 "illegally" without paying a penny to the public sector broadcaster.
According to Sharma, while Sahara TV had used 77 minutes of footage, Asianet Communication had utilised 45 minutes, Eenadu TV Network – 21 minutes and India TV- 16 minutes and TV 9 -16 minutes.
Even Sahara and India TV had aired special programmes named ''Silly Point'' and ''Cricket India,'' respectively, which was violative of the contract which Prasar Bharati had with BCCI.
Besides, these five defendants had also booked advertisements for the same.
According to Chandioke, BCCI had granted exclusive television and air time marketing rights in respect of the two series- India-Sri Lanka and India-South Africa cricket series to Prasar Bharati.
Extensive footage of sporting events was being shown unauthorisedly by creating sponsored programmes or special news capsules of extended duration, Prasar Bharati contended.
However, the court refused to extend the order for the India-South Africa series starting soon.