An Indian court has called on the government to intervene after today (Monday) opting to dispose of a public interest litigation lodged with regards to the freedom of public-service broadcaster Doordarshan to stream major sporting events on its over-the-top platforms.
The case was lodged at the Madras High Court by a Mumbai-based sound engineer, Aditya Modi, who had challenged whether the make-up of the Sports Broadcasting Act is appropriate in today’s media environment.
The Act currently allows Prasar Bharti, the agency of which Doordarshan is part, to broadcast live sports events deemed to be of national importance through its own terrestrial and DTH satellite networks, but not through other free-to-air mediums such as OTT platforms and cable operators.
Modi has argued that Indian sports fans miss out on viewing major sporting events due to the restrictive nature of the Act, or are forced to watch them on “highly priced” pay-television channels, “thwarting the very objective” of the act.
The Madras court today asked the government to make a decision on the public interest litigation that had requested a change to the law.
Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad said, while disposing of the plea: “We leave it for the government to take a decision in coordination with all other stakeholders. We make it clear that the government must respond.”
Karthik Seshadri, counsel for the petitioner, had said: “Due to widespread use of smartphone coupled with the availability of cheap internet data, especially in rural India, a person is able to keep abreast of ongoing events.”
Seshadri added, in quotes carried by the Times of India: “One is also able to carry a streaming device wherever he travels, and he can also stream any event on the streaming device with ease at any place.
“However, due to heavy subscription charges levied by the private OTT players, who have rights to broadcast big sporting events, millions of citizens are deprived of such entertainment due to the embargo placed on Prasar Bharti by the legislature.”