M A I N   N E W S

DD to show all matches; to deposit Rs 50 crore
S. S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 17
The uncertainty over the telecast of the India-Pakistan cricket series on Doordarshan (DD) was over today with the Supreme Court directing international sports channel Ten Sports to share its exclusive live signals of the remaining matches with the national network. Doordarshan was directed to deposit Rs 50 crore as guarantee money.

Making its Monday’s interim direction more stringent, a Bench of Mr Chief Justice V. N. Khare, Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Mr Justice S. H. Kapadia directed Ten Sports to “feed” its signals of the remaining three one-day internationals and the test matches to DD and DD was directed to display the sports channel’s logo.

But the court, which issued notice to Prasar Bharati on Ten Sports’ contempt petition for “showing” its ads during the Rawalpindi match yesterday, directed DD not to show any of its ads during the telecast and 30 minutes before the start and 30 minutes after end of the match to ensure protection of the sports channel’s commercial interests.

Since DD had not made any bid for buying the cricket match rights from the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), it has “no right over the telecast and cannot use it for commercial gains”, the Bench said. It added that the direction was issued taking into account the larger public interest involved because the people wanted to see the matches.

The court specifically directed DD not telecast its signals of the matches to West Asia and ensure their blocking to the Far East, if it was technically feasible, to ensure the protection of Ten Sports’ commercial interests in these regions.

While Prasar Bharati has deposited Rs 10 crore as per the March 14 order of the Supreme Court, it was directed to deposit Rs 40 crore more within a week. The amount would remain in a fixed account with a nationalised bank for three months as guarantee money, the court said.

While posting the matter for final disposal on April 15, it said the damage or loss likely to be suffered by Ten Sports and its local distributor, Modi Entertainment Network, would be computed during the hearing.

The direction came on Ten Sports’ appeal against the Madras High Court’s order directing it to feed India-Pakistan cricket matches’ signals to DD.

In the beginning of the hearing, the court asked counsel from both sides whether any efforts were being made for an out-of-court settlement. Ten Sports’ lawyer Kapil Sibal said there was no question of that. “No negotiations are going on and the media reports in this regard are false,” Sibal said. “Law Minister Arun Jaitley had only a five-minute contact with Ten Sports chief Abdul Rehman Bukhatir, but there was no meeting at any level. There was no attempt by the government to contact us thereafter,” he said.

But Attorney-General Soli J. Sorabjee contested Sibal’s claim and told the court that several attempts were made to contact Ten Sports officials. “We are still ready to negotiate with them and the Prasar Bharati chief is ready to fly to Dubai to sort out the issue,” he said.

Sorabjee said there was no strength in Ten Sports’ argument that ‘simulcast’ of matches by it and DD was not possible. They have an arrangement with Pakistan TV for ‘simulcast’ for merely $ 0.5 million, while DD was offering them $ 10 million, Sorabjee said.

When the court asked Sibal and Modi Entertainment’s lawyer Harish Salve about the likely damage or loss to their clients on account of sharing the telecast with DD, they said the actual amount could not be projected as it had to be computed as per the subscriber base and various other factors. But the future loss could be in the range of Rs 208 crore to them, they said.

The Bench did not agree with their contention and said, “Prima facie, we are of the view that it was not difficult to calculate”.

Ten Sports and Modi Entertainment counsel also rejected the proposal of Sorabjee for showing DD ads with those of Ten Sports during the telecast and keeping of the entire revenue generated from it in a separate account till the damages to the former were determined.

When Sibal at the end of his submission said that no signal should go out from the court that during the era of globalisation, it was not safe to have international contracts like this in India as it could have serious ramifications on investments in future, Sorabjee took a strong exception to it, saying, “It amounts to terrorising the court.”


Match specials to have 2 more AC 3-tier coaches
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 17
The overwhelming response to cricket special trains has prompted a Northern Railway to add two more AC 3-tier coaches to the 13 coach train linking Delhi with Attari.

Northern Railway is running two match specials on March 19 and 22, respectively. Bookings for the March 19 train began at 8 am here and will continue till 8 pm on March 19.

Chief Public Relations Officer of Northern Railway, Mr Davinder P.S. Sandhu told TNS here today that two AC 3-tier coaches will be added to the 0401 cricket special scheduled to depart on March 19. “Ticket counters at the Old Delhi Railway Station reported a good beginning on the first day of the bookings for the March 19 train. The ticket window opened at 8 am. Within 20 minutes, the entire AC 3-tier coach with a passenger carrying capacity of 67 had been booked. So, we added another coach. That was also booked in no time. Now, we are adding a third and this will increase the passenger carrying capacity of the train from 1100 to 1234.”

He said that three of the six ordinary sleeper class coaches have also been booked. That still leaves cricket lovers with an opportunity to either reserve seats in the remaining three sleeper class coaches or buy a ticket for a seat in any unreserved ordinary class coach. The six unreserved coaches and six sleeper class coaches have a passenger carrying capacity of about 525 and 460 respectively.

Northern Railway is not issuing any wait list for the match specials. The train will leave Delhi junction at 9.50 pm on March 19 and reach Attari at 7.15 am the next day. En route, the train will stop at Amritsar station at 6 am and depart for Attari at 6.30 am.

The match specials will fetch Northern Railway about Rs 5 lakh. “But it is not the money that has motivated Northern Railway to run the match specials. It is more of a goodwill gesture. For an organisation (Northern Railway) that has an annual earning of Rs 4500 crore, Rs five lakh is nothing,’ Mr Sandhu said.

Each fully booked AC 3-tier coach will generate Rs 40,000 which works out to an earning of Rs 1.2 lakh from three AC coaches alone on a one way journey. A Ticket for travel in the AC coach is priced at Rs 607. This includes the 26 km journey from Attari to Lahore. The Pakistan Railway will run a train between Attari and Lahore. Fares for the general class and Sleeper Class are Rs 164 and 259, respectively.

On the directions of the General Manager, Northern Railway, Mr R.R. Jaruhar, an Assistant Commercial Manager, an Assistant Security Commissioner, Railway Protection Force and a public relations officer will be on board the match specials to ensure a smooth journey.

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