SET also in fray for Lankan cricket rights

MUMBAI: Sony Entertainment Television India, along with Trans World International and PCM Sports (India), have thrown their hats into the ring along with current contenders Taj TV and World Sports Nimbus for international TV broadcasting rights for cricket in Sri Lanka between January 2004 and December 2006.

Last month, the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, now christened Sri Lanka Cricket, initiated the three year agreement bidding process. The five contenders will now have to slug it out for the rights, plagued by controversy thus far.

Both ESPN Star Sports and Indian pubcaster Doordarshan, according to a Sri Lanka Cricket announcement, have indicated their interest only in the event of tours by India to Sri Lanka during this period. 

Broadcast rights to Sri Lankan cricket were with World Sports Nimbus till October 2001 when the Lankan Board revoked the rights claiming delays in payment of dues on the part of the sports marketing company. Taj TV then stepped in, bagging the rights till August 2004, but WSN retaliated by filing a $ 11 million damages claim against BCCSL before a Singapore tribunal.

After much parleys, Sri Lanka Cricket decided to honour the agreement with Taj Television but only as far as England's tour of the island next month was concerned. Taj's subsidiary Ten Sports will air the matches in Asia and Europe.

For Sony meanwhile, it is the second time round that it is making a play for Lanka cricket. The broadcaster had bagged telecast rights in August 1999 to cover cricket for a period of 18 months in the island country, for a reported $7.75 million, starting with the AIWA Cup, followed by the three Test series between Sri Lanka and Australia. 

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