Provision for live broadcasting of certain events.
(1) For the purpose of ensuring the widest availability of viewing in
India of a national or international event of general public interest to be
held in India, the Central Government shall notify the same well in advance.
National or International event of general public interest notified under
sub-serction(1) shall have to be carried on the network of a public service
broadcaster as well .
order to strive towards providing a level playing field for bidders for
broadcasting rights, or persons interested in receiving broadcasting right for
events, notified under sub-section (1), the Commission shall determine, well
in advance of such event , the principles and terms for the access to the
network of the public service broadcaster.
Clause 31 of Communication
Convergence Bill 2001, now shelved
The ongoing controversy with Ten Sports
channel on the broadcasting of Indo-Pak Cricket series has brought the
attention back on the rights of the State in ensuring broadcasting of events
of national and international events.
For any body watching the Indo-Pak
political relations, it would be evident that the forthcoming Cricket series
is much more than a mere sporting event. It is perhaps an attempt to bridge
relationships between the two countries. But for this considerations, the tour
would not have even survived upto this day when the Indian Cricket players
have actually landed on the Pakistani soil despite the grave security risks
they are facing.
Both the Indian and Pakistani Governments
are putting their best foot forward to ensure that the series goes on
successfully. It is incidental that the event also is also commercially
attractive and the Pakistani Cricket Board will make money in the bargain. The
Television channels will share some of this booty.
However, it would be ironic if this
historic sporting event is made a prisoner of commercial interests as Ten
Sports would like it to be. According to the reports, Ten Sports has refused
to share the telecast rights with Doordarshan and also it is using the
opportunity to arm twist Cable TV operators to pay six month fees in advance
on an increased number of declared connections.
In this approach, the tendency to
profiteer is very much in evidence. The move is likely to deny a large section
of the Indian population especially in the villages miss an important Indo-Pak
peace making occasion. As of now there is no substitute to Doordarshan
in terms of reaching out to the Indian rural population and blocking DD from
broadcast of the event is equivalent to blocking 80 % of the population from
In this context, one is reminded of the
Sri Lankan Broadcasting Corporation's
experience during the last mini world cup cricket where it was prevented
from running radio commentary of the event because of the overriding rights
given out by ICC to a private firm.
The current trend of giving rights for
Sporting events have reached such a stage that if a person sits in the stadium
and speaks over his mobile phone about the match, it could amount to violation
of the broadcasting rights. These are examples of implementation of IPR in
gross indifference to what is "Public Good".
India was considering a comprehensive
legislation for regulation of the convergent media through the Communication
Convergence Bill 2001. Unfortunately, the political hurdles in merging of the
Ministry of Broadcasting with the Ministry of IT ultimately resulted in
there being no political consensus on the Bill and it was ultimately shelved.
As a result of such shelving, the Cable
TV regulation has hit a road block and the Ten Sports controversy has emerged.
Had the Bill become an Act, Section 31 quoted above would have given clear
rights to the Government of India to get the broadcast rights for events held
It is understood that the Government is seriously considering an ordinance to
be promulgated for the above purpose and even the Madras High Court hearing
the case has queried the Government if this option is available. Such an
ordinance will however have to be worded in such a manner that events
outside India is also covered as for as broadcast in India is concerned.
For this purpose the words "to be held "
should be removed from the first paragraph which may then read
"(1) For the purpose of ensuring the widest availability of viewing in
India of a national or international event of general public interest in India, the Central Government shall notify the same well in advance.
At present it appears that the Government
has two options. The first being promulgation of an ordinance to the effect
equivalent to the Section 31 of the shelved Communication Convergence Bill
2001 or to enter into an arrangement with Pakistan TV to take the feed
into the Doordarshan channel.
It is possible that due to the ongoing
elections in India there could be some doubt if passing of an ordinance at
this stage would violate EC norms and therefore require its permission.
Considering the importance of the event EC should declare that it would not
consider it an objection and facilitate the passing of the ordinance.
On the other hand if PTV and DD come
together for a joint broadcast of the matches, it will be another path
breaking Indo-Pak co operation that will have its own positive impact on the
peace process. This may however depend on whether PTV has rights limited to
broadcasting within Pakistan or whether it has the rights to accommodate
broadcasting in India.
Either way, the happenings in the next
few days are interesting to watch.