Indian ministry issues Doordarshan sports ruling

India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has issued a notice which mandates that all television channels offering live sport that is deemed to be of national importance display a ticker that notifies the viewer if the same event is available via public-service broadcaster Doordarshan.

India’s Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007, currently makes it compulsory for private broadcasters to provide access to sporting events of “national importance” to the largest number of listeners and viewers on a free-to-air basis.

However, the fresh direction from the MIB states that broadcasters must now issue a message every 15 minutes which reads: “This match/game can also be viewed on DD Sports channel on DD Free Dish DTH and DD’s terrestrial network on the free-to-air basis.”

The Economic Times newspaper said pay-television broadcasters Star India and Sony Pictures Networks India are currently assessing their legal options over the ruling.

The development comes after Star last month agreed a sublicensing deal with Doordarshan that granted the broadcaster coverage of the Indian Premier League Twenty20 cricket competition for the first time.

The agreement was announced on the eve of the ongoing 2018 IPL season and came after the MIB attempted to bring matches from the league under the national importance umbrella.

In March 2017, the MIB deemed the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, summer and special Olympics, Paralympics and certain tennis, hockey and football events as sporting events of national importance.

In October 2016, the ministry had declared that all one-day internationals, Twenty20 and Test matches played by the Indian men’s cricket team, along with semi-finals and finals of the men’s World Cup and Champions Trophy needed to be designated to be of national importance.