I&B ministry to introduce Broadcast Bill 2006

The bill envisages sharing of sports feed by private broadcasters in India with Doordarshan, reports Chetan Chauhan.

india Updated: Nov 12, 2006 22:44 IST

Aiming at a twin objective of circumventing the Supreme Court stay order and increasing Doordarshan’s revenue through sports broadcast, the I&B ministry is expected to introduce Broadcast Bill 2006, in the winter session of Parliament.

The bill also gives the ministry the power to decide the sporting events that the private broadcasters will have to share with Doordarshan. “If the government feels that any sporting event has interest outside the cable homes we would be able to notify the even for mandatory sharing with DD,” a ministry official. A committee headed by Secretary I&B will decide these sporting events.

The I&B ministry’s bill primarily envisages mandatory sharing of sports feed involving by private broadcasters in India with Doordarshan.Introduction of the bill had become a necessity for the government as SC had stayed the broadcast guidelines stating the same.

Ten Sports and ESPN-Star Sports had moved a petition in this regard. They alleged that the guidelines don’t provide level playing field and equal business opportunity to them.

The ministry, while notifying the guidelines, had said that unlike private broadcasters Doordarshan has viewer-ship 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.

Officials also said that the bill would also restore revenue parity for Doordarshan, which had lost over Rs 200 crore this year because of being deprived of the mandatory sharing of feed.

According to officials, the bill allows Doordarshan to retain 25 per cent of the revenue generated while rest will be passed on 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.

Email: chetan@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Nov 12, 2006 22:44 IST