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ESPN-Star bid to catch the Indo-Pak cricket bus

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Feb. 23

THE off the field action on telecast rights for the forthcoming India-Pakistan series is hotting up. While broadcasters are waiting for an interim order from the Madras High Court, ESPN Star Sports on Wednesday wrote to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) offering production services for the forthcoming Tests and one-day international (ODI) matches.

In a letter to the President of the Board, Mr Ranbir Singh Mahendra, the broadcaster has offered to provide production services in accordance with the international standards in lieu of the right to telecast the matches.

It has also said that the rights would be shared with Prasar Bharati on terms acceptable to the BCCI.

"ESS will deposit all the advertising revenues which it receives following deduction of applicable agency commissions, any costs incurred and fees payable to Prasar Bhararti in relation to its telecasts, any applicable taxes and mutually agreed production costs with the BCCI," said Mr Rik Dovey, Managing Director, ESS. The sports broadcaster has further added that if the terms are agreeable to the BCCI, then the two should jointly approach the Madras High Court.

Meanwhile, Zee Telefilms, which had moved the Madras High Court, has submitted an offer to produce and market the series to any party, besides sharing the feed with Doordarshan.

A company official said that other than the production cost which is estimated to be $75,000 per day, it was willing to deposit all its earnings including syndication money with the court or to any other account directed by the BCCI.

Even as Prasar Bharati is waiting for a decision from the High Court, sources said that it has also written to the Board expressing its interest in airing the matches.

"We are interested acquiring the terrestrial rights, if possible on an exclusive basis through a revenue sharing arrangement. We will pay a minimum guarantee to the Board," said sources.

During the last tour of Australia and South Africa to India, the Board had asked Ten Sports to produce the matches while Prasar Bharati telecasted the matches.

Meanwhile, Mr Mahendra has been maintaining that the fate of the telecast rights issue is crucial to the tour. It has already been postponed as the Madras High Court is yet to its pass orders. There have been reports from Pakistan that the Pakistan Cricket Board may consider seeking compensation if the tour is cancelled.

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