Scatmag.com

February 2020

WHO OWNS DSPORTS?



On 9 January 2020, Discovery Communications India announced that Vijay Rajput - Senior Vice President - Affiliate Sales & Product Distribution, had been given additional charge of the company's sports business in South Asia. He would head DSPORT, its sports channel. Rajput has more than 3 decades experience in media. Prior to joining Discovery, he was Chief Operating Officer at ESPN STAR Sports. "We are yet to actualize the full potential of our sports business in India. This year, Vijay will lead efforts to ensure that DSPORT channel gets its rightful due in the sports broadcast arena," Megha Tata, managing director, Discovery - South Asia, said in a statement.

According to earlier press reports, DSPORT was being marketed by an external agency - LEX Sport. The current announcement shifted commercials back to Discovery.

DSPORT currently has rights to cricket like the Bangladesh Premier League, Islamic Bank of Afghanistan Cup, Afghanistan Premier League, among others.

The Discovery network currently operates 13 channels: Discovery Channel, Discovery HD, Animal Planet, Animal Planet HD, TLC, TLC HD, JEET Prime, JEET Prime HD, Discovery Science, Discovery Turbo, Discovery Kids, Discovery Tamil and sports channel DSPORT.


LEX SPORT CLAIMS OWNERSHIP

In a surprise announcement on 11 January, LEX Sport has moved the Delhi High Court claiming it did not merely market the channel but actually owned it.

LEX Sport is owned by ex DishTV CEO RC Venkateish.






THE PETITION

Venkateish in his petition has alleged that "Discovery Communications India and Discovery Network Asia Pacific - have misrepresented to the Ministry regarding the material technical parameters and ownership of channel DSPORT."

LEX Sports in its petition has also referred to its application to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, which stated "the private respondents (Discovery) are trying to change the channel under the guise of merely a name change application, because channel does not belong to the respondent No. 3 (Discovery Communications India) as claimed." The petition also claims that Discovery "fraudulently, without the petitioner's knowledge or consent has sought to change the name of the channel form DSPORT to EuroSport. The fact of the creation of new and different channel Eurosport has been deliberately concealed," the petition alleges.

LEX Sports has further claimed that since the channel DSport is "created and operationalised by it by way of uplink license granted by Licensing Authority, Office of the Communications Authority, Hong Kong, (it) is the owner of the channel DSport."


DISCOVERY'S RESPONSE

A source in Discovery has said they will contest the case aggressively. "It has always been our channel from the beginning. There is no dispute about that. Everything is in black & white and on record in the public domain. We have terminated our contract with Mr Venkateish and Lex Sports as we did not require their services," according to the source.


COURT HEARINGS

The court has served notices to the I&B ministry for clarifications on the channel's ownership.

The case will come up for hearing on March 30. n


STOP PRESS!

On 28 January 2020, the Delhi high court passed an interim order restraining Lex Sportel Vision from using the logo 'DSPORT' in any manner whatsoever & specifically for marketing its own channel '1Sport'.

The interim injunction was granted against Lex Sportel "as in the past weeks they issued several communications in public causing confusion within the market and industry on the ownership of DSPORT," says a Discovery India press release.

Discovery - South Asia senior vice-president - affiliate sales & head of sports business Vijay Rajput says that the court order clarifies who the true owner of the DSPORT brand is.