The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court clears telecast, signal suspense stays

New Delhi, March 15: Millions of viewers may not be able to watch live tomorrow’s one-day match at Rawalpindi despite a Supreme Court order today that Ten Sports, which holds exclusive rights to the India-Pakistan series, share signals with Doordarshan.

Senior counsel for the Dubai-based sports channel Kapil Sibal said his client was dependent on signals from Taj TV Ltd, a foreign firm of which Ten Sports was “only a brand name”. And “if signals were not given to it”, it would not be possible to beam them in turn to Doordarshan.

But the bench said Doordarshan would get signals for tomorrow’s telecast and directed Prasar Bharati, represented by solicitor-general Kirit Raval, to deposit “within two days” Rs 10 crore with the court registry as caution deposit for later payments to Ten Sports.

Chief Justice V.. Khare and Justices . Santosh Hegde and S.H. Kapadia also directed Doordarshan to carry the logo and advertisements of Ten Sports except the prohibited ones like those on liquor and tobacco. The bench deferred further hearings till Wednesday.

The court’s order caused some unhappiness in Doordarshan, as it has to use the sports channel’s logo and carry its advertisements. “It’s a mixed judgment from our point of view,” an insider said. “Commercially, we have now got a raw deal. But from the public’s point of view, Doordarshan will carry the live telecast and enable millions of people with no access to cable to watch the Rawalpindi match.”

The main contention in today’s proceedings was whether Ten Sports could beam signals to Doordarshan. Taj TV (India) Pvt. Ltd, which holds the power of attorney in India for the Dubai-based firm, said it “does not own the rights over the telecast signals generated from Pakistan”. It contended that “giving simultaneous telecast feed to DD was a breach of its own contract with the original telecast rights holder”, Taj TV (Dubai).

Sibal’s contention that Ten Sports may not receive signals for live telecast tomorrow was an attempt to guard his client from future contempt proceedings. But the bench said it did not want to “pre-judge” the issue. “We will see on Wednesday, if you (Ten Sports) are in contempt or not,” the court said.

A question also arose over who would pay for the signals as cable operator Modi Entertainment, which has already paid money to Ten Sports for beaming the signals through its network, does not want another player in Doordarshan. Former solicitor-general Harish Salve appeared for the cable operator.

Doordarshan, which allegedly made Rs 20 crore during the telecast of the first match, for which signals were provided by Ten Sports free of cost, had on its part offered the sports channel $10 million for the live feed of the five one-day matches. But Ten Sports wanted $25 million.

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