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How the Indian Super League is trying to prevent “unofficial” live coverage

The Indian Super League, a football league that is a joint venture between the IMG-Reliance Industries joint venture and Star India, has some fairly detailed guidelines on what the media can and cannot do while reporting on the sports event. It’s no co-incidence that Star India is currently fighting a court case in the Supreme Court of India, to prevent publishing of live scorecards and ball by ball commentary on the Internet. (Our take on potential impact of “Hot News” on media freedom here)

View the media accreditation guidelines here.

Restrictions on live coverage

– No live text updates: While the Indian Super League is allowing digital publications to cover the event (1 reporter per “recognised digital media group”), the guidelines make it clear that for the “Written Press”, no live second-by-second and/or minute-by-minute (or similar) scoring service using data or text may be transmitted from the Venue. Apart from this, text may include scores, but must “not solely comprise Match scores and/or Club and/or individual statistics.” These restrictions are applicable to Print media and “Recognised” news agencies, for each of which. 4 reporters and 2 photographers per regional edition are allowed (no more than 2 reporters and 2 photographers per regional edition at any event at any time).

– No live radio updates: “Non-Rights Holding Radio Broadcasters” are also not allowed to do more than two minutes of verbal updates/reports, and these cannot be live either. By “Live”, the ISL refers to “the period from the kick off to the final whistle of the Match and will extend to the pre-Match and post-Match presentation ceremony.”

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– No mobile phones, without permission: Unless the devices have been authorised, if you’re an accredited media entity, “access to a Venue with a moving picture camera (including without limitation video cameras, mobile phones, tablets and laptops) on a Match-day is prohibited.”

– No photos that might become GIF’s: Accredited Photographers are only being allowed to take still photographic pictures “for editorial use on or in print media, websites and within news services such as syndication services and, in the case of an Accredited news agency, for their clients/customers, provided that: they appear as still images (and not as moving images to emulate broadcast).

– No ‘live’ telecast of the media conferences and practice sessions.

– Camerapersons can’t open their camera bags during the match: “On Match days, the Accredited camerapersons may enter into the Match Venue to take their seats at the Media Tribune however they are strictly not allowed to open their camera bags/unit for any filming whatsoever for the duration of the Match. Only at the designated areas, such as the press conference room and mix-zone, may the Accredited camerapersons record the proceedings (always in accordance with guidelines provided by the League).”

Fresh Feed Restrictions on News Channels

While news broadcasters aren’t allowed to report live feeds, there are also significant restrictions on how much content can be used. Fresh Footage is defined as “audio-visual or visual-only footage of Match play, presentations, in-stadium entertainment on the day of the match”.The guidelines clearly state that the usage of Match footage by News Broadcasters shall be monitored by a Monitoring Agency. The restrictions on usage of Fresh Footage:

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1. Distribution restrictions:

– Live streaming of News: live video streaming simulcasting of the news broadcast that includes Fresh Footage may only on the broadcasters website, and not on any football website or any other website.
– No uploads on YouTube, DailyMotion: News Broadcasters shall not display deferred or archived Fresh Footage, whether as part of news bulletin or otherwise, on their own official website or via their account or otherwise on a third-party video-upload site such as YouTube, DailyMotion, etc.

2. Content Restrictions:

– A maximum of 5.5 minutes of Fresh Footage in a Day on News Programmes and/or Special Programmes, with no more than two  minutes of Fresh Footage broadcast per hour of broadcast.
– two (2) repeats of Fresh Footage may be broadcast in any given hour of news broadcast in the News Programmes and/or Special Programmes. “The Fresh Footage of two (2) minutes per hour of news broadcast, as permitted under paragraph 3 above, may only be broadcast two (2) times in that hour, and no further repeats of such Fresh Footage will be permitted.”
– A minimum of a 30-minute delay from the live telecast by the Official Broadcaster before telecast of any Fresh Footage by a News Broadcaster provided however that News Broadcasters are permitted to disrupt regular News Programmes only, to broadcast clip(s) of Achievement Footage for a period not exceeding 15 seconds and for no more than one (1) exhibition for reporting purposes only, within 30 minutes following the Live broadcast of the Achievement Footage by the Official Broadcaster. The relevant duration with respect to the term “Live” as used herein shall include the period from the kick off to the final whistle of the Match and will extend to the pre-Match and post-Match presentation ceremony.
– Fresh Footage may be used for news reporting (which is result orientated) only and not for the purpose of analysis (by way of review or comments by experts, ex-footballers, anchors, analysts or presenters etc).

Apart from this, there are significant commercialization restrictions placed on News broadcasters as well. It looks like Getty Images is still not being allowed into privately run sporting events in India: “Reporter(s) from/for websites, radio channels, electronic news agencies, production houses and representatives of agencies whose primary business involves the commercial sale and licensing of images/photographs rather than the supply of images/photographs to news publications for bona fide editorial purposes, will not be granted Accreditation.” This was a major issue between Getty and the BCCI. Oh, and STAR has BCCI rights, in case you’ve forgotten.

Why is this being done: Since the Hot News matter is sub-judice (and STAR lost the case in the Delhi High Court), live reporting of scores isn’t yet breaking the law, even though broadcasters can take publishers to court. Copyright is in what you capture (writing, photographs, text), and not in an event that someone organizes. What ISL is essentially doing is placing restrictions on access to venues, so that copyrighted content that is created has limited

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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