The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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TV tussle on, Prasar throws punch

Dec. 12: A lot of activity with little outcome marked the day for private sports broadcasters forced to share cricket rights according to the Centre’s guidelines.

Bombay High Court fixed the next date of hearing for December 19 on a petition filed by Taj TV ' which manages Ten Sports ' after the Centre sought time to file its reply.

Taj TV had moved court challenging the “must-share” clause in the Centre’s downlinking policy, which makes it mandatory for all Team India cricket feed to be shared with Doordarshan.

Other sports broadcasters, which held a meeting with the information and broadcasting ministry on the same issue, also returned disappointed.

“The legitimate concerns of dedicated sports channels are not being addressed,” said a channel official after the meeting in Delhi, which lasted nearly three-and-a-half hours and witnessed heated exchanges.

Officials of the information and broadcasting ministry, the ministry of youth affairs and sports, Prasar Bharati, ESPN STAR Sports, Zee, Sony and Doordarshan were present at the meeting. No representative from Ten Sports was present.

Private broadcasters accused Doordarshan of constantly changing its stand. “Doordarshan was initially asking for only one-day international telecast rights. At today’s meeting, it asked for Tests as well' It is not a sports channel but a national network,” said an official from a sports broadcaster.

The channels will meet the government officials again next week.

Prasar Bharati today objected to the Indian cricket board’s (BCCI) decision to sell commentary rights of matches to private FM radio stations.

In a letter to BCCI chief Sharad Pawar, Prasar Bharati CEO K.S. Sarma said private FM stations were not permitted to air commentary.

“No private FM channel in the country, as per their licence condition issued by the government, is permitted to do any commentary on their radio stations,” the letter said.

Sarma suggested the board issue tenders only for overseas radio rights and continue to give All India Radio the right to broadcast commentary for free, according to the existing arrangement.

Earlier in the day, Delhi High Court asked the BCCI to place on record its decision to invite fresh tenders for telecast rights for the next five years. The board requested the division bench of Justices M.K. Sharma and Sanjiv Khanna ' hearing Zee’s petition on cancelling the earlier BCCI tender ' to dispose of the matter as it was issuing new tenders.

Zee’s counsel, however, submitted that the court should not do so unless the BCCI placed its decision on record in an affidavit. The court then asked the cricket board to file an undertaking and posted the matter for further hearing on December 16.

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