The government will promulgate an ordinance to make it mandatory for private telecasters and broadcasters, owning exclusive rights to cover sports events of national importance, to share their live feed with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said Information and Broadcasting Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi.
The government decided to promulgate an ordinance within days of Delhi High Court restraining it from compelling Nimbus Communication Ltd to share their exclusive live video feeds of the just concluded one-day series between India and the West Indies.
As per the court directions, Doordarshan had to be content with a seven-minute delayed video feeds from Nimbus, though All India Radio (AIR) was granted access to Nimbus' live audio signals of the match commentary.
The ordinance, The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharti) Ordinance 2007, will become law after President APJ Abdul Kalam gives his assent.
The government would introduce a bill during the coming budget session of parliament to replace the ordinance, said Dasmunsi.
"The ordinance will make it mandatory for every content right owner and television and radio broadcasting service provider to share the live telecast without its advertisement for various sporting events of national importance," he added.
The minister said it would also have a provision for constitution of a committee comprising officials from the ministry of sports and youth affairs and various other relevant sporting bodies like the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and others to decide what sporting event is of national importance.
The audio visual content provider for telecasting or broadcasting will have to provide signal for all sporting events in which India is participating irrespective of whether it is being held within the country or abroad, said Dasmunsi.
The minister said in case of one-day cricket matches involving India, the content provider will have to share their live feeds with Doordarshan and AIR for the full match, irrespective of where it is being held.
In the case of Test matches with India participating in it within the country, the content provider will have to share the signals of the entire match, Dasmunsi added.
However, in the case of India playing a Test abroad, the content provider will have to give only highlights of the match, he said.
In all cases, the content providers will have to share their clean signal free of their advertisements, Dasmunsi said, adding that the decision to promulgate the ordinance was taken to enable the country's viewers to witness all national sporting events on free-to-air basis on Doordarshan.
He said the government does not want the content providers to end up suffering financial losses in the process of sharing their live feeds with Doordarshan owing to "stealing of their signals during uplinking or downlinking process by local cable operators."
For this, the government would constitute a committee of telecasting engineers and experts to examine the feasibility of preventing such unauthorised poaching of signals, Dasmunsi said, adding that the government would act on the recommendation of the committee.