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The Editors Guild of India notes with dismay and concern the vindictive manner in which governments, including their agencies, acted against media organisations.

On October 15, Prasar Bharati, the Union government’s public broadcasting agency, cancelled its subscription of news services from the Press Trust of India (PTI), the country’s largest news service provider. This followed Prasar Bharati’s decision to invite fresh proposals for a digital subscription to English text and related multimedia services from all domestic news agencies. The PTI is also allowed to submit its proposals once they are invited as are other news service providers like the UNI, whose arrangement too has been cancelled.

A few months ago, a senior official of Prasar Bharati had criticised the PTI for what he believed was its “anti-national coverage” of news pertaining to India-China ties.

On the same day in the Keonjhar district of Odisha, the state police picked up a senior journalist, Ramesh Rath, employed with a regional news channel, OTV, on charges of having circulated an obscene video last year. OTV has stated that the journalist has been targeted for having done a series of reports exposing the Biju Janata Dal government in Odisha, although the state police has denied the allegations, saying that no arrest has yet been made.

The Guild believes that such actions threaten as well as undermine the independent functioning of the media organisations. These should be withdrawn forthwith.

Editors Guild of India

Press Statement dt. 16-10-2020]

Legislation UpdatesRules & Regulations

No. N-10/001(6)/2015-PBRB—In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 9 and sub-section (5) of Section 11 read with clause (d) of sub-section (2) of section 33 of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 (25 of 1990), and in supersession of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Director General (Akashvani) and Director General (Doordarshan) (Recruitment) Regulations, 2001, except as respects things done or omitted to be done before such supersession, the Corporation, with the prior approval of the Central Government, hereby makes the following regulations, namely:—

1. Short title and commencement—(1) These Regulations may be called the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Director General (Akashvani) and Director General (Doordarshan) Recruitment Regulations, 2019.

(2) They shall come into force on the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.

2. Definitions—In these regulations, unless the context otherwise requires,-

(a) “Act” means the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 (25 of 1990);

(b) “Schedule” means the Schedule annexed to these regulations; and

(c) words and expressions used herein and not defined, but defined in the Act shall have the same meaning as assigned to them in the Act.

3. Number of posts, classification and level in pay matrix—The number of posts, their classification and level in the pay matrix relating thereto shall be as specified in columns (2) to (4) of the Schedule annexed to these regulations.

4. Method of recruitment, age-limit, qualifications etc—The method of recruitment to the said posts, age-limit, educational and other qualifications, experience and period of probation relating thereto, shall be as specified in columns (5) to (11) of the said Schedule.

5. Appointing Authority—The appointment to the posts specified in column (1) of the Schedule shall be made by the Prasar Bharati Board, being a recruitment Board as per the proviso to Section 10 of the Act.

6. Disqualification—No person,-

(a) who has entered into or contracted a marriage with a person having a spouse living; or

(b) who, having a spouse living, has entered into or contracted a marriage with any person, shall be eligible for appointment to the said posts:

Provided that the Corporation may, if satisfied that such marriage is permissible under the personal law applicable to such person and the other party to the marriage, and that there are grounds for so doing, exempt, with prior approval of the Central Government, any person from the operation of this regulation.

7. Power to relax—Where the Corporation is of the opinion that it is necessary or expedient so to do, it may, by order, for reasons to be recorded in writing, relax any of the provisions of these regulations with respect to any class or category of persons with the prior approval of the Central Government.

8. Interpretation—If any question arises relating to the interpretation of these regulations, it shall be decided by the Corporation in consultation with the Central Government.

*Please follow the link for detailed notification.

Prasar Bharati

[Notification dt. 29-08-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter relating rights of the cable operators and Direct-to-Home (DTH) operators to live telecast of cricket matches, the bench of Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha, JJ held that  under Section 3 of the Sports Act, 2007 the live feed received by Prasar Bharati from content rights owners or holders is only for the purpose of re-transmission of the said signals on its own terrestrial and DTH networks and not to Cable Operators so as to enable the Cable TV operators to reach such consumers who have already subscribed to a cable network.

As per the facts of the case, the grant of telecasting rights of these events is a major source of revenue for the BCCI and as per the Media Rights Agreement by and between Star India Private Ltd. and BCCI effective from April 2012 till March 2018, Star India Private Limited and ESPN have been granted exclusive rights to telecast cricketing events that take place in the country during the currency of the period of the agreement. However, as per Section 3 of the Act, Star India & ESPN are obliged to share the live broadcasting signals of sporting events of national importance with the Prasar Bharati for retransmission of the same through its terrestrial and Direct-to-Home networks. They had challenged the retelecast of the signals shared with Prasar Bharati by Cable Operators to millions of other viewers, who may not necessarily be linked to the Prasar Bharati’s terrestrial and DTH networks but are subscribers of such cable operators or other DTH service providers. The cable operators, on the other hand, argued that Section 3 of the Act had to be read with Section 8 of the Cable Act, 1995 that imposes an obligation on the Cable Operators to carry/transmit such Doordarshan (Prasar Bharathi) channels or the channels operated by or on behalf of Parliament, as may be, notified in the Official Gazette.

The Court held that in Section 3 of the Act, there is no recognition of the requirement stipulated in Section 8 of the Cable Act, 1995 and the plain language of the said provision i.e. Section 3of the Sports Act, 2007 makes it clear that the obligation to share cast on the content rightsowner or holder, etc. with Prasar Bharati is to enable the Prasar Bharati to transmit the same on “its terrestrial and DTH networks”. If the legislative intent was to allow Section 3 of the Sports Act, 2007 not to operate on its own language but to be controlled by Section 8 of the Cable Act, 1995, there would have been some manifestation of such intent either in Section 3 of the Sports Act, 2007 or in Section 8 of the Cable Act, 1995. It was held that in the absence of any such legislative intent it will only be correct to hold that Section 3 of the Sports Act, 2007 operates on its own without being controlled by any of the conditions or stipulations contained in Section 8 of the Cable Act, 1995. Any other view may have the effect of introducing a fragility in Section 8 of the Cable Act, a consequence that must surely be avoided. [Union of India v. Board of Control for Cricket in India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 991, decided on 22.08.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

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]