Television

Zee-TWI lose ICC cricket rights bidding slugfest to News Corp/World Sport Group

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The long-fraught-with-controversy ICC cricket telecast rights issue has finally been decided. And the winner is not Zee TV, rather it is its staunch rival News Corp which is supporting the World Sport Group (a front company for Murdoch's media conglomerate).

ICC Development (International) Ltd made the announcement yesterday in Paris. The World Sport Group will for the next seven years represent it for the sale of commercial rights for several major ICC cricket events. Among them figure:

* the 2003 World Cup in South Africa and the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

* the ICC Knock-Out tournament in Nairobi (3-15 October, 2000) and then on a two-year cycle.

* the Under 19 World Cups in 2002, 2004 and 2006.

* the two ICC Trophy tournaments in 2001 and 2005.

The winning bid of a minimum guarantee of $550 million by WSG/News Corp was much lower than the Zee Multimedia Worldwide-TWI combine's widely reported $625 million. The announcement was issued by David Richards Managing Director of ICC Development (International) Ltd in Paris yesterday.

The loss could come as a major blow to Zee TV which was banking heavily on the ICC rights to launch its sports channel. In the alternative it is quite likely that it will launch rebel parallel cricket tournaments just as Kerry Packer did in the late seventies-early eighties.

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