Supreme Court passes restraining order
In a new twist to the belated attempts of Prasar Bharati to show the IndianOil tri-series tournament in Sri Lanka on Doordarshan, the Supreme Court has indicated that no court should interfere in the settlement of commercial rights between Ten Sports, the exclusive rights holder for the matches, and Doordarshan on the issue of live telecast.
The order came on a petition filed by Ten Sports seeking transfer to the Supreme Court on a Public Interest Litigation pending before the Kerala High Court for grant of telecast rights to Doordarshan. Rejecting Prasar Bharati's plea that it should be heard before any order was passed, a bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice SB Sinha restrained the High Court from hearing the PIL seeking a direction to Ten Sports to provide signal of the series involving India, Sri Lanka and West Indies to Doordarshan free of cost.
However, the court clarified that the stay of proceedings before the High Court would not come in the way of Ten Sports and Prasar Bharati entering into some arrangements for the telecast of the tri-series, which starts on July 30. The bench issued notices to PS Sudheesh and Dennis Austin, the PIL petitioners before the Kerala High Court, and fixed the matter for further hearing on August 8.
Ten Sports had pleaded that it was becoming increasingly difficult for it to be commercially viable. Its complaint was that whenever any series involving India was on the cards and for which Prasar Bharati did not bid, a PIL was filed in the High Courts seeking direction for sharing the live feed.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Ten Sports, submitted that Prasar Bharti approached Ten Sports only on July 13 with a proposal for sharing the signals of the tri-series, expecting that a litigation in the form of PIL would be filed in a High Court and some interim order would be passed. The counsel alleged that even the PIL pending in the Kerala High Court was a filed by proxy petitioners. Ten Sports claimed that it had made counter offer to Prasar Bharti which was not accepted. The channel said that it had acquired the exclusive rights for the telecast of the tri-series at a huge cost and was being forced to share their rights with Doordarshan against its will under the garb of public interest.