Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Feb 03, 2005
Industry & Economy
Variety - Sports
Uncertainty over Indo-Pak series telecast rights
New Delhi , Feb. 2
WHO will bag the telecast rights to the forthcoming Pakistan tour of India? With just over 20 days left for Pakistan to take on India, all eyes are now on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
"The Board can either call for a fresh bid or negotiate with any one broadcaster," said sources.
A BCCI official said the board is now in a stronger position to decide on whom to award the rights. "There is enough time for us to decide on the rights. A decision will be taken at the working committee meeting in Delhi later this month," he said.
Nevertheless, the issue of awarding television rights is still mired in legal controversy. A special leave petition filed by the Zee Group, challenging the arbitrary cancellation of its earlier bid, is pending in the Supreme Court, besides another petition filed by ESPN-Star Sports.
ESPN-Start Sports had approached the apex Court seeking to restraint the BCCI from awarding telecast rights for the India-Pakistan series to the national broadcaster Prasar Bharati or anybody else without considering it.
However, with the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruling that the Indian cricket board is not a `State' within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, sports broadcasters believe this would give them a second chance to acquire telecast rights to cricket matches organised by the board.
The Zee counsel maintained that the apex court's decision did not have any impact on the grant of rights and that the BCCI cannot call for fresh bids without a decision on the special leave petition. Earlier too, the BCCI had awarded the rights to the Australia, South Africa and one-off Pakistan matches to Doordarshan only after seeking the Supreme Court's permission.
Meanwhile, Zee Telefilms in a statement said it would approach a high court under Article 226 of the Constitution. It will launch Zee Sports during the second quarter of 2005.
The company had bagged the cricket rights for four years in September 2004, after emerging as the highest bidder by offering $260 million.
It is also unclear whether the national broadcaster will get the rights to the series. The Prasar Bharati CEO, Mr K.S. Sarma, said BCCI had approached it for the telecast. However, discussions on revenue arrangements are still on.
Last year, the Supreme Court had intervened by directing Ten Sports to share the feed with Prasar Bharati after the latter deposited Rs 10 crore with the Registrar General of the Supreme Court.
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