India cable operators told to stop illegal cricket telecasts

Indian cable television operators attempting to telecast the cricket World Cup without owning the rights to it will face prosecution, ESPN said in a statement on Monday.

The American sports television broadcaster had filed a suit against 144 cable TV operators in the Delhi high court, claiming that the operators were accessing ESPN signals illegally in order to telecast the matches.

An ESPN official welcomed the high court's order against all unauthorised telecasts of the World Cup, saying: "We are delighted with the verdict. The honorable High Court has made it clear that piracy will not be tolerated."

"We will have a team of observers across the country to ensure that piracy does not happen and in case we spot any, we will align with the police to bring the guilty to book," said the company's vice-president T. Panesar.

ESPN and its partners Star Sports and Star Cricket own the rights to the World Cup which runs until April 2.

Illegal telecasts of Indian films and sporting events are a major problem in India, with local cable TV operators accessing signals illegally to broadcast matches or showing counterfeit versions of new cinema releases to their subscribers.

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