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TEN clings to rights

New Delhi, Jan. 9: TEN Sports today clung to its exclusive rights for telecast of the India-Pakistan cricket series, telling the Supreme Court it was unwilling to share live feed with Doordarshan.

With TEN disapproving the signal-share suggestions put forward by Prasar Bharati, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhan and Tarun Chatterji asked the national broadcaster if it was willing to beam the matches without alterations and pay for it.

The amount it would have to pay TEN to share the feed could be Rs 25 crore or any amount fixed by the court, the bench said. Prasar Bharati, which runs DD, has been asked to reply by tomorrow.

Arguing for TEN, Harish Salve said the channel stood to lose a great deal as it had already entered into deals with cable operators and advertisers. If Doordarshan offered signals, they were sure to move towards the national broadcaster, he said.

Around Rs 140 crore in advertising revenue would then be at stake, Salve said. TEN also rejected Prasar Bharati’s offer to pay Rs 20 crore to telecast the matches without the private channel’s advertisements.

The channel also challenged the Bombay High Court order refusing to grant it any relief in the matter of sharing live feed for the series beginning on Friday.

It also sought a stay on the government’s uplinking guidelines that make it mandatory for sports channels to share feed with Doordarshan for “national and international sporting events” in India or abroad.

The channel claimed it had paid over $100 million to acquire exclusive telecast rights for cricket matches played in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the West Indies in 2003-04. The Pakistan rights alone had cost it $34.13 million.

It said it had appointed a sub-distributor in India who paid a fixed fee every year for cricket matches featuring India beamed exclusively on TEN Sports.

If matches featuring India were simulcast on Doordarshan, the fixed fee would be reduced by Rs 36 crore, it said.

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