PIL seeks free online streaming of sports events

A public interest litigation has been moved at the Madras High Court challenging the provisions of the Sports Broadcasting Act, charging that it failed to facilitate free online streaming of sports events by Doordarshan despite the growing number of internet users in India.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court

Chennai

A division bench of justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, before whom the plea came for hearing, ordered notice returnable in four weeks.

The plea submitted that if Prasar Bharati was allowed to retransmit the live broadcast of sporting events through its online platforms, it would further ensure that the broadcast of sporting events of national importance reached the largest possible audience.

But now, even where the broadcasting signals for such sports are shared with Prasar Bharathi, it can only re-transmit the live broadcast on its terrestrial and DTH networks. Owing to this, only private players are capitalising on many internet users in India at the cost of public interest. Taking advantage of the situation, the content right owners/holders and mere broadcasters for sporting events have also started to stream matches live on their web portals and through their respective over-the-top (OTT) services. However, such live streaming was accessible only after paying hefty subscription fees benefitting private broadcasters, the petitioner said.

Based on this, the plea moved by Aditya Modi challenged Section 3(1) of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharathi) Act, 2007, read with the Rules 3(1) and (7) of the Act.

The plea also sought the Court to declare the restrictions imposed as null and void and hold that Prasar Bharati has a right to retransmit the live broadcast of sporting events ofnational importance on any of the mediums available on free-to-air basis.

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