The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Prasar cracks cricket whip

New Delhi, Nov. 6: Prasar Bharati plans to haul private television companies to court for carrying footage of cricket matches played in India without paying for it.

The state-owned broadcaster has exclusive rights to the telecast of cricket matches played at home and wants to safeguard its privilege.

“The private TV channels have a permissible right to show footage for a period of 30 seconds only. Beyond this, they need to pay us. Despite repeated requests, they have refused to pay us our due amount. So we have decided to go to court in a day or two,” said K.S. Sarma, chief executive officer, Prasar Bharati, at a Ficci round table on broadcasting here today.

Earlier, Prasar Bharati had slapped copyright violation charges on a private channel which was showing footage of cricket matches in India as highlights.

When asked to name the channels infringing on its right, he said: “A number of channels are doing this. If they are earning money out of this, they should pay us.”

Speaking at the conclave, IPR and Broadcasting — Protection of Rights of Broadcasters and Performers, Sarma said the first pre-requisite is to change people’s mindset about copyright.

“Unless remedial mechanism is established to settle the problems arising out of copyright instantaneously, things will only go from bad to worse,” he said.

Referring to the issue of broadcasters’ rights, Sarma said: “These rights are themselves almost non-existent. A deferred live telecast is not protected under law today. We have not been able to foresee the dramatic technological changes that have taken place in the recent past.”

The discussion soon veered to current debate on a treaty proposed by the US. “We have communicated our views to the government. The US says that broadcasting rights should encompass webcasting and cablecasting,” he said.

India’s copyright law is still inadequate, but it is understood to be already inclusive of webcasting and cablecasting.

“We, as a group of people interested in protecting IPR, should put requisite pressure on the government to look into this treaty,” Sarma said.

He was concerned that the current copyright laws are loaded against performers. “Unless the WPPT (World Performances and Phonograms Treaty) is passed in the World Intellectual Property Organisation, there is no way to take care of the rights of performers,” he said.

Sarma confirmed that Prasar Bharati will pay royalty to performers, effective from October 2.

“However, it will not be on a retrospective basis,” he added.

Urging the Indian Performing Right Society, a federation of music associations, to reach an agreement, he said: “We have agreed to pay Rs 100 for each performer, but they don’t seem to be too happy with it. Further negotiations are going on.”

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