The Delhi High Court Tuesday sought Prasar Bharati’s response on a plea by a sports content distribution company alleging that it was resorting to arm-twisting tactics to buy its audio feed rights for the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup.
The high court sought the state-owned broadcasting agency’s stand on the petition by India Sports Flashes Pvt Ltd.
The plea is seeking directions to Prasar Bharti to act in terms of the Sports Act by agreeing to share the audio feed of the private company in the cricketing event.
Advocate Rajneesh Chopra, who appeared for India Sports, said the court issued notice to Prasar Bharati and asked it to file the reply within 10 days.
With the direction, the matter was listed for further hearing on April 24, he said.
India Sports has alleged that “they (Prasar Bharati) are by using their authority as a state entity, restricting the entry of other private companies to acquire the sub license for the same product by arm twisting the petitioner before hand, so that later, the respondent themselves could further sub license the radio broadcast feed”.
According to the petition, the Sports Act does not say that a content provider like the petitioner was required to sell its existing rights to Prasar Bharati.
India Sports, which claims to be the world’s biggest sports radio, said that it broadcasts live chat commentaries, talk shows, special sports programs, expert comments, sports news and updates.
It has said in its petition that its subsidiary company, Asia Sports Flashes, entered into an agreement with Channel 2 Group for sub-licensee, joint production and distribution partnership deal for ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 for audio rights only.
“That vide letter dated January 27, 2019, as issued by Channel 2 Group, it has also granted rights for further sub-licensing,” the petition has said and added that it cannot, therefore, sell the rights.
The company has contended that it has offered the audio feeds to Prasar Bharati, but the state-run broadcasting agency was insisting on completely purchasing the entire broadcasting rights granted to it.
“The respondent (Prasar Bharati) are now resorting to strong persuasion tactics to force the petitioner (India Sports) to sell their entire rights in the radio broadcast of the above mentioned ICC event and has been constantly for a long period been forcing the petitioner to provide a new proposal for selling the entire radio broadcasting rights available with the petitioner to the respondent which the petitioner are not willing to do,” the plea has said.
It has also contended that there was also “a threat /possibility of action against the petitioner under section 4 of the Sports Act, that is, penalty upon the petitioner”.
It has said that further delay in working out an arrangement “would hamper the monetisation opportunity and would be very difficult to manage the deal due to shortage of time”.
It said that “as per the Sports Act, if the respondent takes the feed from the petitioner then it does not have to pay any money upfront, rather it will be entitled to receive 50 percent from the total revenue generated during the whole period. Thus, it will save a lot of money of exchequer and will earn huge returns for itself due to huge potential of the upcoming ICC Cricket World Cup, 2019.”―New Indian Express