Prasar Bharati Cannot Encrypt DD Sports: Delhi High Court, Dismisses Amazon's Plea Against Broadcast Of India-New Zealand Cricket Series On Dish TV
Upholding an interim order of the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal, the Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that Prasar Bharti cannot encrypt the contents of DD Sports as long as it remains in the list of Free-to-air channels which are required to be compulsorily carried by all cable operators.
Justice Yashwant Varma said DD Sports has been made FTA by the government in exercise of powers conferred by Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act, 1995 and it continues to remain included in the notification dated September 06, 2013.
"Thus, even if the content in question be one which was acquired by Prasar Bharati under Section 12(3)(c) of the [Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act]1990 Act, as long as the same is aired on the DD Sports platform, it would be subject to the power that the Union Government may exercise under Section 8 of the 1995 Act," said the court
The court made the observations in its decision on a petition filed by Amazon Seller Services Private Limited against the order passed by TDSAT on November 24 on a petition filed by Dish TV India Limited. Dish TV had challenged the decision of Prasar Bharti to encrypt the DD Sports with effect from November 22.
Amazon submitted before the high court that it has entered into an agreement with the New Zealand Cricket Board in terms of which it has the exclusive media rights for Indian territory for broadcast and transmission of International cricket matches organised by the board. The court was told that the duration of the rights is from October 24, 2022 to April 30, 2026.
Amazon further told the court it has an arrangement with the Prasar Bharti under which the state-owned public broadcaster can share "the signals / feed of the said cricket matches forming part of the India-New Zealand Series-2022 in terms of which Prasar Bharati was given the limited right to re-transmit the said matches restricted to the DTH platform owned by it and known as DD Free Dish."
Arguing that the rights conferred on Prasar Bharati did not envisage a further re-transmission or re-broadcast of the cricket matches on any private cable or Direct To Home platform, Amazon said it had issued a cease-and-desist notice to the public broadcaster after coming to know that matches are also being carried on the platforms owned by Dish TV India and other channels. It is perhaps the said notice which prompted Prasar Bharati to encrypt the content relating to those matches being carried on DD Sports, it said.
Following the order of TDSAT, DD Sports has been decrypted and is now available as part of the FTA services provided by it.
Justice Varma in the judgment noted that the agreement which may have been entered into between Amazon and Prasar Bharati has not been placed on the record. "The Court has thus been unable to ascertain the correctness of the assertion of the petitioner that the said agreement limited the rights of Prasar Bharati to re-transmit the content relating to the matches only on its own terrestrial or DTH platform," the bench said.
The court said while it would have been open for Prasar Bharati to have carried the said content [cricket matches] on any channel which was not FTA or did not find mention in the notification of 06 September 2013, it could clearly not have encrypted the contents thereof as long as DD Sports remained in the list of FTA channels to be compulsorily carried by all cable operators.
"While learned Senior Counsels for the petitioners also referred to clause 3 of the notification of 06 September 2013 and submitted that the FTA content is restricted to those programmes which are being broadcasted on the C Band satellite signal and thus cannot extend to content which may be broadcasted on the KU Band satellite signal, Mr. Sharma refuted the aforesaid submissions and categorically stated that no such bifurcation existed and that the content of broadcast on DD Sports is FTA," said the court.
The court said it finds no ground to interfere with the interim directions which have been issued by the TDSAT, while dismissing the petition.
Title: AMAZON SELLER SERVICES PVT LTD vs DISH TV INDIA LTD & ANR
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 1120
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