Contours of the proposed legislation on sport telecast rights hinge on the Supreme Court verdict in the Ten Sports versus Doordarshan (DD) case. The next Supreme Court hearing for the case is scheduled for Thursday. A source in the government told FE that framing of the legislation would depend on the court directions.
Government officials start-ed studying various international models on how state broadcasters are allowed to share private channels’ telecast rights to events of national importance, as the Ten-DD controversy peaked over the Indo-Pak cricket series. But, there’s no clarity as yet on what ’sport’ can be termed as events of nat-ional importance. UK is among the countries to have a legislation, which allows the public broadcaster to telecast certain sport events/matches along with the private rights holder.
In the case of the ongoing Indo-Pak series, although Dubai-based Ten Sports had the exclusive telecast rights, public broadcaster DD wanted to beam it as well, in order to reach the masses.
Since Indo-Pak cricket was part of the peace initiative between the two countries, the telecast issue turned controversial. Even Prime Minister A B Vajpayee intervened to settle things. Subsequently, Ten Sports moved the Supreme Court against a PIL over the issue. Finally, in an interim order, the Supreme Court ordered Ten to share its cricket feed, along with its ad insertions, with DD.
However, in the process, government and DD drew flak over the issue as there’s no legislation in India, which gives an edge to the public broadcaster for telecasting events of national importance. Also, it’s not clear whether Indo-Pak cricket series could be termed as an event of national importance, as a government official quipped.