In a jolt to Star Sports India Private Ltd, the Supreme Court today rejected its appeal challenging the Delhi High Court verdict asking it to share clean live feed without any commercial with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati or share revenue if signals have advertisements.
“From our … discussion, it becomes clear that the sharing of the signals has to be without any advertisements and if the advertisements are also to be included in the signals, there has to be sharing of the revenue,” a bench of Justices A K Sikri and Prafulla C Pant said while dismissing the appeal of Star Sports India Private Ltd.
The Delhi High Court had in 2013 held whosoever airs a live broadcast of sporting events of national importance must share the same with Prasar Bharati without any commercials.
The private broadcaster has been seeking a direction to Prasar Bharati not to insist on live signal of international cricket matches of India without any commercial.
Referring to provisions of the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, the apex court concurred with the findings of the High Court and said that the contents are to be “mandatorily shared” by the private broadcaster with Prasar Bharati and they have to be “without its advertisements”.
The apex court listed out the pursposes of some provisons and said that they aimed to achieve goals like providing “access to largest number of listeners and viewers on a free- to-air basis”.
“The principle of purposive interpretation, in this context, meant that Prasar Bharati was supposed to telecast these matches for the benefit of general masses spread throughout India, who otherwise do not receive signals of private channels like the appellant or are not having financial capacity to pay for these channels.
“Thus, it was a larger public interest which was sought to be served and noble objective was kept in mind while enacting the statute,” it said.