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City bars flout laws, screen FIFA matches

entertainment Updated: Jul 07, 2010 15:53 IST
Naomi Canton
Naomi Canton
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Dozens of Mumbai bars have been screening the FIFA World Cup to fill their venues with customers, but a fifth have been doing so without the necessary rights.

Bars that screen FIFA to the public have to acquire a licence to do so, by paying a subscription fee to ESPN Software India Private Ltd (ESIPL), which owns the channels ESPN, STAR Sports and STAR Cricket.

ESIPL has the exclusive television broadcast rights to the FIFA World Cup in India, currently screened on ESPN and STAR Sports.

A spokesman for Novex Communications, the sole commercial distributors for ESIPL, says, “The big names like Manchester United Café Bar, Olive, The Sports Bar, The Hard Rock Café and Café Mondegar have all got the right licences, but 18 to 20 per cent of Mumbai bars screening FIFA, have not.”

An ESIPL spokesman adds: “Most Mumbai bars have acquired licences by paying the subscription fees. We are pursuing the few who haven’t done it yet to take the rights as it is copyright material.”

According to Novex, many city bars have also been using the word ‘FIFA’ and ‘World Cup’ in their promotions, even though this too is not allowed. These words are trademarked, and owned by FIFA, the international football governing body.

So while words like ‘South African soccer’ is allowed on a bar’s promotional material, the phrase ‘2010 World Cup’ is an infringement of FIFA’s rights.

The ESIPL spokesman explains: “Title sponsors and ground sponsors of FIFA can use the words ‘FIFA’ and ‘World Cup’ to promote events at various public venues so long as they have acquired the necessary licences from FIFA.

Others are not allowed to do so and we are constantly watching and taking necessary action”. Prashant Narula, business head of Manchester United Café Bar, confirms they have taken licences from ESPIL, “albeit at an exorbitant cost.”

“Plus we haven’t used ‘FIFA’ or ‘World Cup’ in any of our promotions because we know they are trademarked,” he says.

“Other bars have used the ‘FIFA’ and ‘World Cup’ logos to attract attention, but we have been very careful not to do this,” he adds.