I&B Bill to circumvent SC stay order on broadcast guidelines

The government has decided to bring a law to enforce the downlinking and uplinking guidelines notified last year, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Nov 09, 2006 00:32 IST

In order to circumvent the Supreme Court stay order on the broadcast guidelines, the government has decided to bring a law to enforce the downlinking and uplinking guidelines notified last year.

The I&B ministry's bill primarily envisages mandatory sharing of sports feed involving private broadcasters of India with Doordarshan. The bill is likely to be introduced in the winter session of Parliament, a ministry official said.

The move for mandatory sharing of feed was notified in broadcast guidelines but private broadcasters—Ten Sports and ESPN-Star Sports—moved theSupreme Court against them. Theyalleged that the guidelines don't provide a level playing field and equal business opportunity to them.

The ministry, while notifying the guidelines, had said that unlike private broadcasters Doordarshan has viewership in the remote parts of the country. Therefore, the feed should be shared to ensure that everyone in India could watch the major sporting events.

Its first impact of SC stay order was felt when Doordarshan was not allowed to share the feed of all the India-Pakistan cricket matches from Pakistan.

Thereafter, coverage of international cricket matches on Doordarshan has fallen dramatically, resulting in a loss of about Rs 200 crore.

But, the new bill is expected to restore revenue parity for Doordarshan.

According to officials, the bill allows Doordarshan to retain 25 per cent of the revenue generated while passing on the rest to the company holding broadcasting rights of the matches. It also states that each broadcaster will have to sign an agreement with Doordarshan well in advance for sharing the feed. "This is being done to ensure proper marketing of the event from DD's platform," an official said.

The government thought of introducing the bill as future of the controversial Broadcast Regulatory Bill is still in doldrums. Though the government had got suggestions from the stakeholders, including media companies, consensus still eludes over what should be deleted from the earlier bill. "We are preparing a draft for further discussion," a senior ministry official said, categorically stating that the Broadcast Bill will not be introduced in the winter session of Parliament.

First Published: Nov 09, 2006 00:32 IST