Madras HC asks govt to allow national sporting events on Doordarshan’s OTT platform

For now sports is shown on DD Freedish and it's terrestrial channel.

MUMBAI: Demanding that change is the need of the hour and that every legislation should in terms with updated technologies, the Madras High Court on Monday questioned the government about the PIL seeking the approval to tweak sports broadcasting laws. The court has given the centre three months to decide on amendments that will allow Doordarshan to stream top sports events on its over-the-top (OTT) platform in addition to its DTH networks on a free-to-air basis.

The change is likely to impact broadcasters even further who had raised objections in sharing their streams with the pubcaster. Currently, broadcasters such as Star India and Sony hold rights to exclusive online streaming of key sporting events and a change in the regulation can not only impact their viewership but also revenue.

The High Court bench consisting of chief justice S P Sahi and justice Subramonium Prasad pronounced their verdict on a PIL filed by a Mumbai-based sound engineer Aditya Modi, who has requested the Sports Broadcasting Act to be amended to include OTT as a streaming medium apart from Doordarshan’s DTH and terrestrial networks.

As quoted by Times Of India PIL petitioner Aditya Modi said, "In view of the obvious lacunae in the act, users/viewers, who do not have access to or use of such networks, are either unable to watch these sporting events of national importance or compelled to watch such sporting events on highly-priced sports channels, thwarting the very objective of the act."

As per the counsel for the petitioner Karthik Seshadri said that Prasar Bharati does provide content on OTT platform on a free-to-air basis. However, due to the challenge faced by the non-inclusion of OTT platform in the law, Prasar Bharati is not able to stream sports events on its digital platform, thereby restricting Indian citizens to have direct access of such events.

Adding further details he said, “Due to usage of smartphone coupled with the access of cheap internet data, especially in rural India, a person is able to keep abreast of ongoing events. One is also able view 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 for big sporting events, millions of citizens are deprived of such entertainment due to the embargo placed on Prasar Bharati by the legislature."

Seshadri further argued that in order to enable millions of Indians to access live national sports events, Doordarshan should be allowed to re-transmit such events on its OTT platforms. 

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