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Ordinance route for live action
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 1
The viewers across the country would be able to catch the cricket action live with the Union Cabinet today giving its nod for the promulgation of an Ordinance making it mandatory for the sports channels, radio stations and content providers to share live telecast with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati for sporting events of “national importance” at home and abroad.

“The Union Cabinet gave its approval to the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Ordinance-2007 to make it obligatory to every content right owner and TV and radio broadcasting service provider to share live telecast signals,” Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi told reporters after the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Bill will be introduced in the Budget Session of Parliament later this month.

The Ordinance assumes significance with just weeks left for the Cricket World Cup to begin in the West Indies.

Dasmunshi expressed the hope that the Ordinance would be notified before the start of the coming India-Sri Lanka series on February 8.

The decision came after courts had to intervene to persuade private Indian broadcaster Nimbus Communications Ltd to share a live feed of the recent India-West Indies series following the government’s failure to force it to do so.

Nimbus relented but insisted Prasar Bharati broadcast the pictures with a seven-minute delay.

The decision will ensure that millions of cricket fans in non-cable houses and radio listeners would receive live feed of the Indian team’s one-day matches.

However, for Test matches, the government has said that live feed would be required only for matches played in India while for those played abroad, the highlights would be sufficient.

To assuage the feelings of the private broadcasters, Dasmunshi said a technical committee would look into the matter of encrypting the signals being telecast by Prasar Bharati’s Doordarshan, which would ensure that the feed is not accessed by broadcasters outside India.

In turn, Doordarshan will have to share 75 per cent of advertising revenue generated by the event with the private broadcasters.

Nimbus paid $612 million last February for the rights to broadcast all international cricket played in India, under the auspices of the Board of Cricket Control in India, until 2010 after an intense bidding war with rival broadcasters.

Apart from Nimbus, the move applies to Zee Telefilms, ESPN-Star Sports and Sony as all hold cricket telecast rights.

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