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Ten Karachi deal after high drama

March 12: Ten Sports today agreed to provide live telecast signals to Doordarshan and cable operators for tomorrow’s Karachi one-dayer even as the Supreme Court posted its appeal for hearing on Monday.

The Dubai-based channel, which has exclusive rights to the Revival Series, today agreed to provide the telecast feed from Karachi free of cost after a daylong drama in courts across India. It provided an undertaking before a bench of the court which met at Chief Justice V.. Khare’s residence late in the evening.

The deal applies only to the Karachi one-dayer. The telecast of other matches will be decided later.

The bench restrained courts across the country from entertaining petitions on the issue after Ten Sports’ counsel, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, submitted the undertaking. The sports channel undertook to provide “free of cost live telecast feed to Prasar Bharati and the cable operators for the Karachi ODI only”.

Earlier, Madras High Court had directed it to share the telecast of the series with DD.

The Supreme Court, which heard the channel’s appeal challenging the high court order, incorporated the Ten Sports undertaking in its interim order today. It said this would substitute the order passed by Madras and Bombay high courts.

Appearing for Prasar Bharti, attorney-general Soli J. Sorabjee and solicitor-general Kirit . Raval had submitted that denial of live telecast feed to DD would deprive millions of cricket lovers from watching the one-dayer.

Immediately after the Madras High Court order, Chris McDonald, Ten Sports chief in India, had swung into action with a battery of lawyers and an appeal was filed within hours.

Seeking a stay on the order, the sports channel said the high court order amounted to forcible acquisition of its exclusive intellectual property rights over the cricket telecast. “Compulsory simultaneous telecast of the Ten Sports signal would tantamount to confiscation totally opposed to WTO covenants and take India back to super-301-like watch-list,” the channel had said.

Multi-system operators and cable operators in Calcutta have welcomed the decision to allow live telecast signals to Doordarshan. Ten Sports’ loss of exclusive telecast rights even for one match means that agreements reached by the broadcaster and operators over hiked subscriber-base payment stand nullified.

A city spokesperson for Ten Sports confirmed that the agreements would indeed be “null and void” if the transmission was a “simulcast”.

“We welcome the decision, which will ease the payment pressures on the operators and ensure that everyone gets to see the matches,” Mrinal Chatterjee, a north Calcutta operator, said.

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