Channel 2 Group Corporation, which is the exclusive broadcast partner with the International Cricket Council (ICC) and holds the global audio rights for all their live events up until 2023, has just won a major court battle. The Delhi High Court has restrained over 60 websites and a few radio channels from broadcasting the ongoing ICC World Cup 2019 event that kicked-off on May 30 and will end on July 14.
During the hearing, Justice JR Midha also issued notice to the websites and radio channels, internet and telecom service providers as well as the Centre seeking their replies before the next hearing on September 4. The court was of the view that an ex parte order "was warranted" in favour of the plaintiff - Channel 2 Group - in view of the facts and circumstances of the case.
In a recent interim order, the judge had directed search engines like Google and the telcos to take down, delete or block access to links to the infringing websites where the audio coverage of the cricketing event could be made available to the public without authorisation.
While the UAE-based Channel 2 Group has the exclusive audio rights for the ICC World Cup, Hotstar is the official Internet and Mobile Broadcast Partner. Channel 2 Group had signed the audio rights agreement with ICC Business Corporation, ICC's commercial arm, a few years back, which basically gave it the exclusive right to transmit and stream the audio coverage of the tournament, including warm-up matches, over the internet and FM/AM. Late last year, it had joined hands with Asia Sports Flashes for a sub-licensee, joint production and distribution partnership deal for cricketing event.
Channel 2 Group had moved the high court on concerns over the "likely abuse" of its exclusive audio and intellectual property rights, as has happened in the past causing considerable financial loss to the company.
(Edited by: Sushmita Choudhury, with PTI inputs)