BCCI cancels TV rights, ZEE cries foul

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 22, 2004
ZEE Telefilms chairman Subhash Chandra says BCCI colluded with ESPN Star Sports to deny ZEE of its legitimate claim

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) on Tuesday gave an affidavit in the Bombay High Court saying that it was canceling the tender process for telecast rights - it had previously awarded to ZEE Telefilms.

It is understood that the cricket board will retain the telecast rights with itself till fresh bids are called.

As a response to this, while ZEE said it would go in for legal action against the cricket board's decision to go in for a fresh tender for telecast rights, ESPN STAR Sports, a contender for the rights, withdrew its petition to the Bombay High Court against the award of cricket rights to ZEE Telefilms.

The Indian cricket board will now decide whether to re-tender the rights or to produce the upcoming Australian series on its own. BCCI officials have reportedly claimed that the cricket body has the wherewithal to produce the upcoming India-Australia cricket series, and may hire a TV production crew to handle the broadcasting of the matches.

Cricket Australia (CA), BCCI's counterpart in Australia, has meanwhile written to the Indian cricket board that it may "reconsider coming to India", if the matches are not broadcast because of CA's contractual obligations with sponsors.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has also told the Indian board that it needs to provide television pictures for third umpire decisions to go ahead with the series, and this was a precondition to allow any official matches between India and Australia. The Australian team's cricket tour of India officially begins on October 6.

ZEE Telefilms has accused BCCI and ESPN Star Sports of hatching a "conspiracy". ZEE Telefilms chairman Subhash Chandra was quoted as saying: "There is a collusion and conspiracy between BCCI's Jagmohan Dalmiya and ESPN Star Sports. The court could also see it clearly. But since the petitioner ESPN Star Sports, in collusion with the BCCI counsel withdrew the petition, the court had no option than to record the statement and pass no order."

Following a 14-member BCCI Marketing Committee's decision to award the contract to ZEE, the broadcaster was asked to submit $20 million. "We gave the money and they (BCCI) sent us the Letter of Intent. But it could not be progressed further due to court proceedings," Chandra explained. ZEE has already announced plans to launch a sports channel from October 2 with the sole aim of creating a big buzz around cricket.

The country's largest listed media firm, ZEE Telefilms, was conditionally given the BCCI cricket rights for a massive $308 million earlier this month. ZEE Telefilms shares crashed over 4 per cent on the stock exchanges on this new development.
Both ZEE and ESPN STAR Sports executives declined to comment on whether they are ready to increase their previous bid amounts. Against ZEE's bid of $308 million, ESPN STAR Sports had committed $240 million. It is likely that ESPN STAR Sports will increase its offer now.

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