The Lok Sabha on March 8, 2007 approved a Bill making it mandatory for private broadcasters to share live feed of national sports events with Doordarshan and All India Radio on free-to-air basis. The Bill will replace the Ordinance issued by the Government in February after Nimbus Communications, which holds telecast rights for all international cricket matches in India till 2010, had declined to share telecast signals with Prasar Bharati.
Replying to a debate on the Bill, Information & Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said, “The Government has brought this legislation in public interest to show live cricket matches to all viewers across the country. Though 70 per cent of advertising revenue in cricket is generated by India, Indian viewers are deprived of watching matches involving even their own national team.”
Australia and the UK, which contribute only 5-10 per cent of total advertising revenue in international cricket, have much more stringent laws regarding telecast of matches, he said.
The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Bill, 2007, also empowers the Centre to specify a percentage of the revenue received by Prasar Bharati from cricket matches to be utilised by the national broadcaster for telecasting other sporting events.
The minister said that all private telecasters would have to share the live telecast feed of sporting events of national importance with Prasar Bharati without advertisements for re- transmitting on its terrestrial networks and DTH.
An Ordinance was issued on February 2, 2007, to ensure millions of viewers did not lose out on watching the ICC World Cup matches. There was no other alternative but to bring the Ordinance and the Bill.