Indian court clears way for cricket opener broadcast
NEW DELHI: India’s Supreme Court Chief Justice stepped in after court hours on Friday to clear the way for the broadcast of the first match of Pakistan-India cricket series to millions of Indian homes.
Chief Justice VN Khare called a hearing at his home regarding the case between Gulf-based TV network Ten Sports and Indian cable operators on the eve of Saturday’s opening one-day fixture and ordered the private channel to share the broadcast with the state-run network Doordarshan.
The row had threatened to deprive cricket-crazy Indians of watching live broadcasts of the hotly-anticipated series, which begins Saturday (today) with the first of five scheduled one-day internationals in Pakistani city Karachi.
Hopes of a quick resolution to the wrangle seemed dim earlier in the day after Ten Sports had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a lower court’s order directing it to share the broadcast with Doordarshan.
Kapil Sibal, a lawyer for Ten Sports, said they had volunteered to share the broadcast for the first match despite having exclusive rights in order not to disappoint the cricket fans. “This was an order on the basis of an undertaking we voluntarily gave because we did not want to deprive people of the pleasure of watching the match,” he told reporters. “I will supply the signal free of cost to Doordarshan and cable operators and enable them all facilities to telecast the match. This will be applicable only until Saturday (today),” he said. The SC will take up a hearing again on Monday and then pass a final order.
The Madras High Court had asked Doordarshan to pay an unspecified sum to Ten Sports, which has exclusive telecast rights, and broadcast the private operator’s logo while showing the matches. Ten Sports in its appeal to the Supreme Court said that the lower court’s order amounted to its “exclusive property rights” being acquired by another in the name of acting in the public interest. The Dubai-based channel said that it had bought the exclusive rights of telecast for the series through global bidding in 2002 and had no agreement for sharing with Doordarshan.
The case took a further twist as the Indian government stepped in and asked the Supreme Court to pass a judgement only after hearing all parties to the dispute. —AFP