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The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007

The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007 being Act no. 11 of the year 2007, was enacted with the view to provide on free to air basis, to the huge number of listeners and viewers access of national importance sports events through mandatory sharing of sports broadcasting signals with Prasar Bharati. The present Act has received its assent from the President of India on the 19th day of March, 2007 and the provisions of the same were to brought into operation on the 11th day of 2005, retrospectively, as has been provided under the Act itself. It is having extension over entire India territory. Certain important definitions have been provided under the second section of the Act to the terms which are at many occasions been used under various provisions of the Act.

The Second chapter of the Act is very important one, dealing with the main purpose of the Act i.e. relating to the national important broadcasting of sports signals sharing with the Prasar Bharati, mandatorily. Section 3 of the Act requires that every owner or holder of content rights, and provider of services being television or radio broadcasting services should share broadcasting with the Prasar Bharti of the national important sports events while they are live broadcasting in India on any cable or direct to home network or even on radio commentary broadcasting. Such sharing of live television broadcasting should be as such to allow them for re-transmission of the same on Prasar Bharati’s terrestrial and Direct to home networks. Also sharing is required to be made without advertisements, on this issue there is a case recently decided by Hon’ble Delhi High Court, i.e. ESPN Software India Pvt. Ltd. versus Prasar Bharati & Another, W. P. (C) 3611/2013 where the Court has considered the Constitutionality of Rule 5 of the Sports Broadcast Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Rules, 2007 in relation to the present provisions of Section 3 of the Act. While dealing with the same, the Court has specified that the broadcasters are under the obligation to share live broadcasting signals of such sports events with the Prasar Bharati without inclusion of the advertisements either put in place by the Broadcast service provider himself or by the content rights owner, i.e., the event organizer, as per requirements of Section 3 of the Act. Similarly, there will be certain conditions on which such sharing should be done, including the sharing of advertisement revenue amongst the owner or holder of content rights and the Prasar Bharati. Such sharing of revenue is provided as 75:25 in relation to television coverage and 50:50 in relation to Radio coverage respectively and not less than this. The Central Government is given authority to decide the purposes on which percentage of such revenue to be utilized by it on broadcasting other sports events.

The said Chapter under Section 4 is providing important penal provisions under the Act, the Central Government is vested here with the authority to prescribe the penalties under this Act and it can in also include suspension of license, permission or even registrations, or revocation thereof in case of breaching of terms or conditions which were provided under preceding provisions of section 3 of the Act. And such penalties if in terms of pecuniary penalty (ex. Fine) maximum given under the Act is rupees one crore and not more than that. Similarly, the Act follows the principles of natural justice, i.e. before inflicting any penalty under this provisions the proviso clause says that there should be a reasonable opportunity given to the concerned service provide under default. Also the Act particularly, specifies that whatever default has been seen committed under this provision, should not entail liability to penalty, if the same were committed after the date on which the provisions of the Act brought into force and before the commencement of Ordinance of 2007 i.e the Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Ordinance, 2007 (Ordinance no. 4 of 2007).

The next chapter i.e. Chapter III of the Act makes provisions under section 5 of the Act, empowering the Central Government as to issuance of guidelines for taking measures being expedient for mandatory sharing of such broadcasting. And whatever guidelines which were issued prior to the promulgation of aforesaid Ordinance of 2007 should be treated as has been made under this provision of the Act.

Finally, the last chapter of the Act is dealing with miscellaneous provisions under Act where section 6 is important saying that the Central Governments guidelines issued for downlinking Television channels on the 11th day of November, 2005 and uplinking from India on the 2nd day of December of the same year to be treated as has been issued under this Act and be valid as such. And section 7 provides the rule making authority to the Central Government.

Finally, the Act sought to repeal the concerned Ordinance of 2007 i.e. ‘The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Ordinance, 2007’ without having affected to the actions taken under the provisions thereof.

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.