LEX Sports has moved the Delhi High Court over the ownership rights of DSport, which now Discovery claims to have taken over completely.
Discovery on Thursday had announced the takeover of DSport amidst the dispute over the owvership of the sports broadcast channel. However, a Delhi High Court ruling of December 20 indicates towards a dispute over the ownership of DSport between Discovery and LEX Sport Vision.
The Delhi High Court on a petition filed by the LEX Sport Vision, through promoter and CEO RC Venkateish, has directed to issue notices to the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, Discovery Communications India and Discovery Network Asia Pacific.
Venkateish in his petition has alleged that “the private respondents” – Discovery Communications India and Discovery Network Asia Pacific – have “misrepresented to the Ministry regarding the material technical parameters and ownership of channel DSport”.
LEX Sports in its petition has also referred to its application to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which stated “the private respondents (Discovery) are trying to change the channel under the guise of merely a name change application, because channel does not belong to the respondent No. 3 (Discovery Communications India) as claimed.”
The writ petition also states that Discovery “fraudulently without the petitioner’s knowledge or consent has sought to change the name of the channel form DSPORT to EuroSport.
“The fact of the creation of new and different channel Eurosport has been deliberately concealed,” the petition alleges.
The petitioner has further alleged that Discovery “through this ‘name change modus intends to illegally swap the channel of LEX Sports with a completely new service ‘EuroSport’ created only in October 2019 but not yet even commenced uplink and expropriate the subscriber base and goodwill created by provision of high quality content and service to subscribers by DSport at an expense of over ₹ 80 crore.”
LEX Sports has further claimed that since the channel DSport is “created and operationalised…. by it by way of uplink license granted by Licensing Authority, Office of the Communications Authority, Hong Kong, (it) is the owner of the channel DSport”.
A source in Discovery has said that they will contest the case aggressively. “It has always been our channel from the beginning. There is no dispute about that. Everything is in black and white and on record in the public domain,” said the source, while declining to comment specifically on the merit of the petition. “Our legal team will look into that. All I can say that we have terminated our contract with Mr Venkateish and Lex Sports as we did not require their services. A termination notice was served in line with our contract.”
Discovery in a Press release on Thursday had stated that it had retained full control of its sports channel DSport. The broadcaster had also announced that in the new administrative setup, the role of Vijay Rajput, currently serving as SVP – Affiliate Sales & Product Distribution has been extended with the additional responsibility of heading its Sports business in South Asia.
Venkateish declined to comment, saying the matter is sub judice. The Discovery spokesperson also refused to comment on the same ground
The case will come up for hearing on March 30.