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Star India celebrates court ruling against mobile services

The Delhi High Court in India has ruled that mobile phone companies cannot provide live, running updates of sporting events that are exclusively shown by the Star India broadcast division of media conglomerate News Corporation unless they hold a licence, according to the Indian Television news website.

The court, which upheld the petition by Star India against Crickbuzz, On Mobile and Idea Cellular, said that the mobile phone services would only be able to provide running updates without a licence following a 15-minute delay.

Justice M L Mehta issued an interim injunction restraining the services from providing information such as ball-by-ball coverage or minute-by-minute score updates and match alerts for subscribers without obtaining a licence from Star India. However, they will be able to report ‘noteworthy information’ such as wickets during a cricket match without a licence.

The court judgment said: “It would be just and reasonable for the defendants to either obtain a licence and gain equal rights to their subscribers, or make them wait for some time, in order to not prejudice the right of the plaintiff (Star India) to earn revenue from the match information… There shall be no restriction upon the defendants to report ‘noteworthy information’ or ‘news’ from cricket matches, as and when they arise, because stale news is no news.”

Star India chief executive Uday Shankar said: “This decisive verdict finally creates clarity on who owns the rights and a mechanism for monetisation and fair revenue share. For me, this is a huge boost to the entire digital and mobile space.”

Star has worldwide rights for all India national team Test, one-day international and Twenty20 cricket matches held in the country, as well as some domestic tournaments, for six years, from 2012-13 to 2017-18. The deal includes mobile and internet rights.

“When we bid for the cricket rights last year, our idea was to create a homogenous, high quality consumer experience,” Shankar added. “We had bid for all rights, including mobile and digital, where there was no monetisation.”