Settle footage dispute with TV channels: HC

Published: Thursday, November 24, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:The Delhi High Court today asked Prasar Bharti and some private TV news channels to amicably settle their dispute over the use of India-South Africa cricket series footage for which the public broadcaster has obtained exclusive rights from BCCI.

The suggestion came from Justice Swatanter Kumar who asked the parties to examine if the dispute can be resolved by extending the two-minute a day limit fixed by Prasar Bharti on use of its exclusive footage of cricket matches.

Observing that the information should be used for the benefit of the people at large, the court requested the parties to talk to each other and fixed tomorrow for further hearing.

Earlier, the court had on October 28 restrained Sahara TV Network Pvt Ltd, Asianet Communications Ltd, Eanadu TV Network, India TV AND TV 9 from using Prasar Bharti's exclusive footage of India-Sri Lanka and India-South Africa cricket series for producing their own cricket programmes.

India TV had yesterday questioned the locus standi of the public broadcaster to move the Delhi High Court claiming it was not the owner of the cricketing event in question.

In its reply to Prasar Bharti's suit, India TV counsel Pratibha M Singh had submitted that there was no material on record to establish that Prasar Bharti had exclusive rights ofthe cricketing event.

She had contended that the use of excerpts of cricket matches by India TV in its news bulletins did not amount to copyright infringement as it was a bonafide act of fairdealing.

Terming the conditions imposed by Prasar Bharti on the quantity of footage that could be used by private TV channels in their news bulletins as illegal, Singh had said "it doesnot have any sanction of law".

India TV accused the public broadcaster of attempting to create a monopoly in its favour in respect of cricket events in India and contended the condition of 30 seconds per bulletin and two minutes for the whole day was illogical and unreasonable.

On behalf of Prasar Bharti, counsel A S Chandioke had submitted there was a specific agreement between BCCI and the public broadcaster in this regard.

In its suit, Prasar Bharti accused the five private TV channels of using its exclusive footage of the series in violation of terms and conditions prescribed for such use.

According to the terms and conditions for the use of exclusive Doordarshan footage of the India-Sri Lanka and India-South Africa cricket series, private TV channels could use the footage only in regular news bulletins and that too not exceeding 30 seconds per bulletin with a total of two minutes per day, Prasar Bharti said in its suit.

They could not carry advertisements or messages before, during and after showing such footage, it said.

Earlier, Chandioke had told the court that the BCCI awarded exclusive telecast/broadcast rights for India-Sri Lanka and India-South Africa cricket series to Prasar Bharti on October 24, 2005 and since the contract was still being vetted by BCCI lawyers, the parties had agreed that they would be governed by terms and conditions agreed upon by them in April this year for India-Pakistan cricket series.

Under this agreement, private channels could not use DD footage for producing their own programmes.

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