Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that BCCI and Neo Sports cannot force it to encrypt the live feed of cricket matches of national importance that it receives from private broadcasters.
The High Court was hearing a petition by BCCI and Nimbus Communication seeking a direction for encryption of DD signals to prevent illegal transmission of live feed by private operators.
Appearing before Justice S Ravinder Bhatt, Prasar Bharati's counsel Dushyant Dave contended that private broadcasters, who share live feed under the Sports Act (Mandatory Sharing of Feed), do not have legal right to ask for encryption of feed.
"Any direction to encrypt the feed would seriously affect our character as public broadcaster," Dave said.
Countering the suggestion mooted by Nimbus counsel to direct the public broadcaster to issue instructions to cable operators to desist from indulging in piracy, Prasar Bharati said it (Nimbus) can take action against cable operators by filing suits against them.
"They have not challenged the provisions of the statutes (Sports Act and Cable TV Network Act) and are simply asking for encryption on the ground that cable operators are violating their (Neo Sports) intellectual property rights. If their rights are violated they can take action against the operators," Prasar Bharati further said.
Earlier in the day, senior advocate CA Sundaram, initiating the argument on behalf of BCCI and Nimbus, contended
that the live feed which it gives to DD is being used by cable operators without paying Nimbus.
"Nimbus can encrypt the live feed within 48 hours across the country on its own cost," Sundaram said.
Citing the example of DD encrypting its feed, he said DD Sports channel was encrypted in the past so it cannot be said that it was not possible.
Encryption, which is possible in a maximum seven days time, is an internationally recognised method to protect intellectual property rights, the counsel said.
Contending that out of total 110 million viewers 65 per cent watch programme through cable TV, Nimbus' counsel said this shows that a large number of cable operators are making money from DD's unencrypted feed, which is transmitted through its local tertiary stations, and causing huge revenue loss to them.
The petitioner also alleged that cable operators and DTH networks have been transmitting Doordarshan signals without obtaining any permission/licence from Nimbus which deprived it of revenue from licenses.