Prasar Bharati may get streaming rights for sports events on national interest; HC verdict today

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Just like the LIVE broadcast of shared feed of international cricket involving Team India and other sports events of national interest on Doordarshan, Prasar Bharati may also get sharing rights of the same content on its digital / OTT platforms.

The Madras High Court is today (Monday) scheduled to announce the verdict on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), filed by Aditya Modi a sound engineer, states a report by national daily Times of India.

The petitioner, a sound engineer, in the PIL had questioned the legality of the provisions of the Sports Broadcasting Act, which restrict the streaming of sports content of national interest on digital broadcast / OTT platforms of Prasar Bharti, while allowing Doordarshan to re-transmit the shared feed from the sports content rights holders on its own terrestrial and DTH networks.

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“In view of the obvious lacunae in the Act, users/viewers, who do not have access to or use of such networks, are either unable to watch these sporting events of national importance or compelled to watch such sporting events on highly priced sports channels, thwarting the very objective of the Act,” TOI has quoted the petitioner as saying.

“Due to widespread use of smartphone coupled with the availability of cheap internet data, especially in rural India, a person is able to keep abreast of ongoing events. One is also able to carry a streaming device wherever he travels, and he can also stream any event on the streaming device with ease at any place. However, due to heavy subscription charges levied by the private OTT players, who have rights to broadcast for big sporting events, millions of citizens are deprived of such entertainment due to the embargo placed on Prasar Bharti by the legislature,” Modi had pleaded.

For now, Prasar Bharti is refrained from sharing the sports content of national interest on its digital / OTT platforms.

A decision in Prasar Bharti’s favour will severely hurt the interest of Hotstar and SonyLIV, the leading platforms to stream LIV Sports in India. Both the OTT platforms have invested humongous amount of money to acquire premier sports content exclusively.

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