In a relief to cricket enthusiasts, the Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Doordarshan (DD) channels to share live feed of the 2015 Cricket World Cup with cable operators.
Taking note of Prasar Bharti's appeal, the top court temporarily suspended the Delhi high court verdict barring DD to share the feed. Exclusive broadcast rights of the tournament are with the Star India network.
"The order of the high court shall remain suspended," a bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose said in its order while posting Prasar Bharti and the centre's appeal for a hearing on February 17. Private channels and BCCI would come with their proposal to resolve the dispute.
Even before notices were issued to the private channels, senior advocate P Chidambaram, appearing for Star India, said the matter required urgent hearing as the World Cup begins on February 14. He said huge assets were at stake and asked for an early hearing if the SC was deferring implementation of the HC judgment.
He also questioned Doordarshan's stand, asking why the broadcaster wanted to provide its live feed to other operators. His submission was shared by two other senior advocates, Kapil Sibal and Salman Khurshid, who were also appearing for the BCCI and private broadcasters.
"This arrangement, under which DD shares its feed for free, has been there for the last seven years. Let it continue," the bench said.
"World Cups come and go. This will not be the last World Cup. But the judgment delivered by this court will last forever. Whatever money is lost can be earned. We will hear you," the bench said, adding that "it is a coincidence that the HC judgment has come at the time of the World Cup."
Attorney general Mukul Rohatagi, who did not open his submission, agreed with the court's observations.