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Court ban on telcos giving live cricket updates

Mumbai, March 14 (IANS):

Describing it as a landmark order, Star India CEO Uday Shankar Thursday said that the Delhi High Court has prohibited telecom operators and mobile value added service (VAS) providers from giving live updates of cricket matches.

The court, in a recent order, barred telecom operators and mobile VAS providers from “exploiting Star India’s exclusive cricket media rights by providing live updates of matches to their subscribers” for commercial gains, he told reporters here.

Star India has the exclusive media rights to cricket matches organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) until 2018.

The court asked telecom operators and mobile VAS providers to either disseminate score updates deferred by 15-minutes or pay a fair share of revenue generated through broadcast of live scores to Star India by procuring a licence.

“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,” the court said in its order.

Shankar who said that not only the monetisation of Star India had suffered due to ball by ball updates by small shops and fly-by-night service providers, the sport itself had suffered due to the poor quality of content.

“This, I feel, is a landmark order. The lack of clarity was severely compromising the ability of rights owners to invest to create great experiences for sports fans. This decisive verdict finally creates clarity on who owns the rights and a mechanism for monetisation and fair revenue share,” Shankar told reporters on the sidelines of Ficci Frames 2013.

“For me, this is a huge boost to the entire digital and mobile space. Finally, we have a foundation on which to build great products as well as successful businesses and the biggest beneficiary will be the consumer,” he added.

Star India had moved court in September last year against Cricbuzz, Idea Cellular and OnMobile stating that their ball by ball account of cricket matches were violating the exclusive rights procured by Star India.

Shankar said that since the India-New Zealand series in August last year, Star India has paid Rs.50 lakh per match to the cricket board for its broadcasting rights.

However, Shankar said that Star India will support the news flow and will not object to news items that give an account of scores or fall of wickets or any other details about the match.

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