ESS to reply to InCable's offer on 10 Dec; consumer group want govt to hold telecast rights

MUMBAI: December 10 could well be a day of great significance to many cricket fans in Mumbai and other cities who subscribe to Hinduja Group MSO InCableNet.

On this day at 2:45 pm, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) will produce before the Bombay High Court its reply to InCableNet's offer of Rs 45 million deposit and two months' rent in advance to settle their ongoing tussle.

In the hearing today, however, ESS refused to accept the offer, saying that the current agreement stands cancelled due to non-payment.

The latest legal twist that the ESS-InCableNet spat has taken is a fallout of a public interest petition filed in the Bombay High Court by Mumbai-based consumer group Consumer Action Network (CAN) seeking government control of cricket telecast rights whenever the Indian team plays.

CAN has also sought directions from the court to start the telecast of ESPN in public interest. This petition, filed through advocate Ahmad Abdi, states that right to education, information and entertainment is a fundamental right of every citizen and thereby needs to be protected by the court.

The ESS-InCableNet matter came up for hearing today before the division bench headed by chief justice CK Thakur. ESPN raised the issue of outstanding dues and various litigations pending in the court.

However, when InCableNet made an offer to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 45 million and advance amount for the next two months without prejudice to rights and contentions of the parties, ESS turned it down.

The division bench's reaction to ESS' reply on 10 December could well decide whether the second Test which kicks off 12 December, will be available to InCableNet subscribers.

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