Supreme Court: Dealing with the question regarding the scope of obligations of a Television Broadcasting Organisation under the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007 (Sports Act), the Court held that the signals to be shared with Prasar Bharati by the content rights owner or holder are to be the best feed that is provided to broadcast service provider in India and has to be ‘free from commercial advertisements’ whether it is of the content rights owner, content holder or that of television or radio broadcasting service provider.

In the present case, the controversy involved the broadcast of certain view enhancing features such a Hawk-eye, ball delivery speed reference, umpire naming graphics, player statistics, etc. on the cricket matches organised by the International Cricket Council (ICC) which were inserted at the site by or at the instance of the event organiser and contained the certain logos knows as “On-screen credits”. Prasar Bharti had termed these logos as advertisements and thereby found them to be violative of Section 3 of the Sports Act. The appellant, however, contended that it had no control over the live signals which included the advertisements of the event organiser as there was no mechanism or methodology to remove these logos.

The bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and P.C. Pant, JJ rejected the contention of the appellants and said that the sharing of the signals has to be without any advertisements and if the advertisements are also to be included in the signals, there has to be sharing of the revenue. It was further said that when live broadcasting signal is shared containing advertisements, those advertisements have much larger viewership because of its telecast/broadcast on Prasar Bharati and hence, any revenue generated through such advertisements is to be shared. [Star Sports India Private Limited v. Prasar Bharati, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 572, decided on 27.05.2016]

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