Parliament on Friday accorded sanction to the Sports Broadcasting Signals bill, after the legislation was passed by voice vote in the Rajya Sabha a day after being adopted by the Lok Sabha.
Coming into force days before the commencement of the Cricket World Cup, the legislation entails a mandatory clause upon private broadcasters to share live feed of national sports events with Doordarshan and All India Radio on free-to-air basis.
A comprehensive broadcast bill is also in the making and the government should be able to bring the legislation for Parliament's approval in the near future, Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said.
The Minister said that the present bill had been necessitated because the Nimbus Communications - which holds telecast rights of all international cricket matches in India till 2010 - had declined to share telecast signals with Prasar Bharati during the last India-West Indies series.
The Sports Broadcasting Signals (mandatory sharing with Prasar Bharati) bill, 2007 will replace the ordinance issued by the government last February.
Guidelines for preventing possible piracy of Doordarshan signals in South East Asian nations would subsequently be issued, Dasmunsi said while responding to such apprehensions earlier expressed by members.
Referring to the telecast laws of Australia and the UK - which he said were more stringent - Dasmunshi said that the purpose of the bill was not to curtail the autonomy of sports bodies and neither to obstruct free competition amongst broadcasters.
"But the government has a bounden duty to provide live telecast to millions of Indians who only have the option of viewing such events on the terrestrial mode", he said.
Against the estimated 4 crore cable homes countrywide, there are 4.5 crore terrestrial homes.