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Law in Sports

What is Sports Mandatory Sharing Act and what is its relevance in India?

A brief overview of the Act that has helped spread sport broadcasting across India in convenient and accessible ways.

Star Sports and Sony Pictures Networks.

Star Sports, Sony pictures networks.


C.C. Chengappa

Updated: 13 July 2021 1:34 PM GMT

The early 21st century saw a complete transformation in the outlook of broadcasting, advertisement and communication in India. The country had already undergone a serious change during the late 20th century in the shift from radio transmission to other modes such as Television. However there was still a lot of work to be done in terms of accessibility of broadcasting sport events in India. The aim was to provide accessibility to maximum people at minimal cost.

The Sports Mandatory sharing Act came into existence in 2007. A bare reading of the act in its introductory paragraph states that the aim is to "provide access to the largest number of listeners and viewers, on a free to air basis, of sporting events of national importance".

This Act has been linked to Prashar Bharati which is India's largest public broadcasting network. The famous Indian channel Doordarshan as well as All India Radio were brought under this after the enactment of the Prasar Bharati Act. The government essentially sought to provide a wider access of sports coverage for viewers and listeners for free. This was done by making the anyways free of cost Doordarshan channel accessible in terms of quality for people who would not be able to afford channels such as Sony or Starsports.

The entire act is made up of 10 clauses only. All these clauses define certain basic tenets of broadcasting that must be understood or adhered to. For the knowledge of public broadcasters, Section 2 specifically defines broadcasting network, broadcaster, cable TV, radio, service provider and other such details. This lays the groundwork for the definitions of the words.

Section 3 is an important determinant that specifies the role of television and content rights owners. All content rights owners have to share their broadcast free of advertisements to Prasar Bharati that will then transmit the event through its network of radio and television across India. The revenue division is also laid down for TV networks being not less than 75:25 and radio coverage being not less 50:50 between the TV rights owner and Prasar Bharati. There are specific penalties in place for non-compliance under Section 4 that may be prescribed by the government from time to time. It includes suspension of licenses, fines for regulations etc that can also be read with the power of the government to make rules under Section 7 of the Act.

The importance of the Act is also stressed upon by the fact that all the rules and regulations that are put forth can and should be presented to the Parliament prior to its implementation. All these clauses are critical and help impart a certain distinction between profit making and spreading accessibility to sports across India. Moreover, the help set in place compliance mechanism that cannot be circumvented in any manner by network operators.

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