Confusion over telecast of cricket matches continues
Feb 9, 2007 - 8:23:03 PM

New Delhi, Feb 9 - Confusion persists over whether cricket lovers will get to watch live coverage of Sunday's second one dayer between India and Sri Lanka at Rajkot or after a seven minute delay on Doordarshan as ordered by the court earlier.

On Friday, Justice B.D. Ahmed of the Delhi High Court refused to grant conditional stay of a government ordinance asking private sports channels to share live feed of cricket and other sports events with public broadcaster Prasar Bharti, which makes it mandatory for Nimbus Communications, the owner of the NEO Sports, to share live feed with state-run Doordarshan.

However, the court at the same time did not quash an earlier interim order directing the public broadcaster to download the signals seven minutes late.

Though the ordinance was promulgated Feb 7, Nimbus Communication did not provide live signals of the Kolkota one dayer on Thursday, sticking to the high court order.

Nimbus has filed a petition before the bench of Chief Justice M.K. Sharma challenging the Sports Broadcasting - Ordinance, 2007, as 'bad in law'.

The matter will come up for hearing on Feb 12.

Appearing before Ahmed, who is hearing the original petition, senior Counsel for Nimbus Harish Salve submitted that the signals of the free-to-air telecast of the Doordarshan - could be downloaded by the neighbouring countries such as Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, the whole of Southeast Asia and Middle East causing irreparable loss to the private channel.

'The ordinance transgresses the constitutional limits and apart from violating the petitioner's fundamental rights, it also interferes with the power of the court to review the circular enforcing the private channels to share the feed,' said the petition.

Despite requests, Prasar Bharti did not fix decryption boxes in its 1,400 low power transmission - centres and the people in neighbouring countries were watching the matches free, said Salve.

Appearing for the government, Additional Solicitor General - P.P. Malhotra said the Nimbus petition should be dismissed as it had challenged the circular of the government contrary to its fundamental right enshrined in Article 19 of the Constitution.

Citing judgements of the Supreme Court, Malhotra said it was the fundamental right of every citizen to view and listen to cricket matches or sports events held in the country on TV or radio.

Malhotra read out the relevant portions of the ordinance saying that the private channel would have to share live feed with DD and All India Radio -.

On Jan 23, in an interim order, the court had allowed the government-owned Prasar Bharti to download the feed of Nimbus Communications and telecast the India-West Indies ODI series in a delayed transmission of seven minutes on DD and broadcast commentary live on AIR.

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