Star India triumphs against Prasar Bharati, wins sports broadcast case
In 2007, a case against Prasar Bharati for broadcasting premium sports content on Doordarshan channels, was filed by Nimbus Communications and BCCI. It was later joined by Star India and ESPN Software India in 2013. The Delhi High Court had given its ruling in 2015, which was challenged by Prasar Bharati in Supreme Court. Now, SC has given its verdict. Here's more about it.
Prasar Bharati's loss puts a smile on Star India's face
Upholding the 2015 Delhi HC ruling, the Supreme Court has said, Prasar Bharati is only allowed to air the sports feed that it gets from private sports broadcasters on its terrestrial network and its DTH platform. This ruling brings much relief to Star India and others, as they were losing significant revenue due to the free broadcasting of their premium content on Doordarshan channels.
Private broadcasters are mandated to share live broadcasting signals of sporting events that have national importance with Prasar Bharati under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007. However, Section 8 of the Cable Television Networks Act also makes it compulsory for all cable operators to carry two free Doordarshan channels. This created a big problem for sports broadcasters.
What happened due to this?
Cable operators, due to this conundrum, could choose to broadcast sporting programs via only two avenues. While one was via ESPN/Star or other paid channels, another was via Doordarshan channels, which was free. They readily chose the latter, leading to the former's loss of revenue. This ruling now ensures that Prasar Bharati doesn't share the feed on Doordarshan channels, ending this duality.
Is the balance awry?
Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said that they are now evaluating the verdict and will take necessary measure. On the other hand, a top private sports channel executive said to Mint that this ruling gave sports channels little bit more leverage than needed. This ruling may lead to an unreasonable pricing structure of private sports channels, as they don't have any competition now.