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Court reserves order on broadcasting rights for DD

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, MARCH 11. The Madras High Court today reserved its orders on two public interest litigation petitions seeking the broadcasting rights of the India-Pakistan cricket series for the national broadcaster, Doordarshan.

The First Bench, comprising the Chief Justice B. Subhashan Reddy and Justice M. Thanikachalam, reserved the orders after hearing the submissions of senior counsel for the petitioners, Sriram Panchu, the Additional Solicitor-General of India, V.T. Gopalan, and senior counsel for Ten Sports, K. Parasaran and P.S. Raman.

In his arguments today, Mr. Panchu said the Ten Sports' action of obtaining terrestrial rights for the series, that too when it had no infrastructure, and then refusing to negotiate with the Prasar Bharathi amounted to "digital hoarding." Flaying the attempts of the sports channel to create a monopoly, he said that if the Centre said it could not give any directive to such players then it would mean that it had abdicated its right over its air waves to somebody.

Mr. Gopalan, submitting that the Centre would be ready to give a reasonable compensation to Ten Sports, said that any interim order, if passed, should keep public interest on a higher pedestal. "Public interest is the superior equity as compared to the private interest," he added.

Mr. Parasaran said the court must strike a balance between the public interest of viewing the cricket series and the private interest of a person who had invested over Rs. 400 crores. Mr. Raman said that even if Doordarshan managed to broadcast the matches ultimately, the product would be that of Ten Sports which engaged the cameras, commentary team and the outdoor units.

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