The Sports Broadcasting Signals Bill, 2007, providing for compulsory sharing of advertisement-free live sports broadcasting signals with all platforms of the public broadcaster on a revenue-sharing basis, was introduced in the Lok Sabha recently. The Bill, introduced by I&B Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi, seeks to replace the Ordinance promulgated in early February to provide widest possible access to sporting events.
Once the Bill enters the law books, sporting events of national importance can be accessed on All India Radio and Doordarshan’s national network. Besides DD1 and AIR’s national hook-up, matches will also be available on DD’s direct-to-home platform.
The revenue-sharing format has also been incorporated in the Bill. In the case of television coverage, 75 per cent of the advertisement revenue earned will go to the rights holder and the remaining will be with the public broadcaster. For radio coverage, a 50:50 revenue-sharing model has been provided for. According to the Bill, the Centre can mandate that Prasar Bharati will use a percentage of the revenue received for broadcasting other sporting events, which struggle to find sponsorships and space on television.
Through the Bill, the Ministry proposes to provide legislative teeth to the downlinking and uplinking guidelines issued in late 2005 as some television channels challenged their legality in court. Penalties for violation include suspension or revocation of licence, permission or registration besides a fine not exceeding Rs 1 crore. Once it becomes law, it will be effective with retrospective effect from November 11, 2005, when the guidelines were notified.
The Bill is expected to come up for consideration and passing towards the end of next week, after the Lok Sabha finishes discussion on the Motion of Thanks to the President to the Joint Sitting of both Houses on the opening day of the Budget session.
The Ordinance was promulgated after Nimbus Communications refused to share live feed of the India-West Indies one-day series with Doordarshan after the Delhi High Court passed an order for a seven-minute deferred telecast signal to the public broadcaster and live broadcast on AIR.
Dasmunsi, in a statement giving reasons for promulgation of the Ordinance, said the government was only reiterating an earlier order making sharing of live feed of sports events with Doordarshan mandatory. The statement of objects and reasons appended to the Bill said that the public broadcaster Doordarshan covered 98 per cent of the population and was the only network having terrestrial rights of broadcasting.