Discovery Communications India’s plan to rename its sports channel for the Indian market ‘DSport’ to ‘Eurosport’ has been challenged by Lex Sportel Vision in Delhi High Court. The Gurgaon based broadcaster filed a writ petition a few weeks ago, including the I&B Ministry as a respondent through the Union of India.
Lex Sportel in its writ petition has alleged that it has the uplinking license for the channel, ‘DSport’ which is being downlinked and marketed by Discovery Communications India in India and an attempt is being made to convert the said channel into ‘Eurosport’ by Discovery by making representations to the Union of India through I&B Ministry.
The broadcaster has raised its objections with the I&B Ministry on the grant of permission to change the name from ‘DSPORT’ to ‘EuroSport’ which is stated to be pending before the Ministry. Lex Sportel submitted that it had not heard back from the I&B Ministry as to the status of its representations dated 13th November 2019, 25th November 2019 and 7th December 2019.
Senior counsel for the petitioner submitted that the request of Discovery should only be considered in the light of the objections raised and since there had been no response, there was an apprehension that the permission may be granted without considering the objections raised by the petitioners.
Learned Counsel for Union of India, Ministry of I&B, submitted that he was not aware of the exact status of the request of Discovery or the objections raised by Lex Sportel. As the I&B Ministry didn’t have any instructions in the matter, the Delhi High Court directed it that the request by Discovery for change of name of channel DSPORT to Eurosport shall be considered by the I&B Ministry along with Lex Sportel’s objections with a hearing given to it before any decision is taken by the I&B Ministry.
The High Court also served a fresh notice for Discovery through email, in addition, as it had not appeared.
DreamDTH reached out to Lex Sportel Vision for comment on the development. Lex Sportel MD and CEO R.C. Venkateish declined to comment on the matter and was quoted as saying, “Unfortunately as the matter is sub judice, I would not be able to share much details with you at the moment.”
Earlier last month DSport’s social media handles removed all mention of Discovery from its handle and logo as well. While all of the of DSport’s previous press releases mentioned Discovery, recent press releases mention Lex Sportel Vision as the parent company with no mention of Discovery at all. The address on DSport’s contact us page had also been changed to the official address of Lex Sportel Vision from Discovery’s address.
Earlier last month after this development, DreamDTH had reached out to Discovery India with a questionnaire including the registration of the Eurosport logo in India by Discovery and 1Sport logo by Lex Sportel Vision. A top Discovery executive told DreamDTH that “DSport was its channel, as it holds the license, and that Eurosport logo was trademarked only for legal protection.” Regarding the 1Sports channel he said that “Lex Sportel was free to do what it wanted and that Discovery had nothing to do with 1Sports.”
While Discovery had earlier denied the launch of Eurosport in India, Lex Sportel in its writ petition has said that it uplinks DSport channel from Hong Kong which is distributed and marketed by Discovery in India, which has allegedly attempted to change the programming and branding of the channel w.e.f 13th February 2020 while automatically inserting Eurosport in place of DSport in the packs carrying DSport subscribed by customers from 14th February 2020.
As opposed to the top Discovery executive’s claim, Eurosport had registered its logo in India for protection back in 2015 itself. The newly registered logo at the end of September 2019 is according to the Trademark Registry ‘proposed to be used’.
‘1Sports’ – The 1 Stop for Sports
Discovery’s alleged plans to bring Eurosport to India by changing the name of DSport has led Lex Sportel Vision to prepare backup plans, in case it loses the legal battle. While the company refused to comment on the 1Sports channel, the broadcaster started the test signal of its channel last month around the time it removed all the mentions of Discovery from DSport’s social media handles.
The test signal of the 1Sports channel is airing from Intelsat 17 and is currently free to air. The channel was back then spotted airing The Ultimate Challenge bicycle ride. DSport has started airing ads of 1Sports 2 days back. The promo mentioned that the 1 Stop for Sports – 1Sport was coming soon.
According to the database of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB), DSport HD license is owned by Discovery whereas Lex Sportel holds the license of 1Sports. The case in front of Delhi High Court will now be heard in March. It remains to be seen whether the I&B Ministry will approve Discovery’s name change application or rule in Lex Sportel’s favour.