MIB seeks to amend Sports Act to ensure wide reach for events of national importance

The ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) is proposed to amend The Sports Broadcasting Signals (Mandatory Sharing with Prasar Bharati) Act, 2007 (Sports Act 2007) in order to ensure that the events of national importance have widest possible reach.

The ministry proposes to amend section 3(1) of the Sports Act to ensure mandatory sharing of the signals of such sporting events with “other networks, where it is mandatory to show the Doordarshan channels as per the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995”, according to a ministry notice, seeking feedback from people and the stakeholders on the draft bill that carries the amendments to the Sports Act.

The move to amend the Sports Act 2007 has been necessitated due to a Supreme Court verdict which held that the public broadcaster Doordarshan cannot air events of national importance on private distribution platforms.

As per the order, the broadcast of events of national importance has to be restricted to Prasar Bharati’s own terrestrial and direct to home (DTH) platforms. Following the apex order, private distribution platforms have been blocking access of DD National channel during the broadcast of events of national importance.

A PTI report quoting officials stated that the purpose of Sports Act 2007 gets defeated as a large number of viewers are either unable to watch these sporting events or are compelled to watch them on highly-priced sports channels.