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DD strikes deal for ICC cricket matches till 2007

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NEW DELHI: Prasar Bharati, which manages Doordarshan and All-India Radio, announced today that it has secured the terrestrial rights for Champions Trophy (2004 and 2006), Holland Cup and the cricket World Cup in 2007 and would show all India matches live.

It also stated that it would bid for the Board for Cricket Control in India (BCCI) cricket telecast rights on a "competitive basis independently." But, in a contradictory stand, reserved the option of collaborating with another company on the rights issue at a later stage.

Taking a stand that may not amuse the Indian cricket board much, Prasar Bharati is unlikely to follow a BCCI tender document condition that the bids' denomination should be either in dollar or Euro."We are assessing the bid document and in a day or two would put up a competitive bid," Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma told newspersons today, a day after the organisation's board met to discuss various issues.

Reiterating what indiantelevision.com had reported yesterday, Sarma added that the Prasar Bharati board had decided to request the government to formulate a legislation that would "give the public service broadcaster 

mandatory access to telecast rights of events of national importance on a non-competitive basis."

Prasar Bharati is an autonomous organisation that manages the affairs of Doordarshan and All-India Radio.

Clarifying on the collaboration issue, additional secretary (broadcasting) in the I&B ministry Vijay Singh, (a government nominee on the Prasar Bharati board), said that Prasar Bharati would alone bid for the telecast rights. "But in a situation where it fails to bid successfully, it would keep the option open to collaborate with the rights holder," he added.

Concurring with him, Sarma said that Prasar Bharati was scheduled to meet up with ESPN executives "today or tomorrow" to keep all channels open.

In a stand that may upset the Indian cricket board, Singh also said that Prasar Bharati would make it clear to BCCI that it would make payments in Indian rupees.

Asked whether payment by an Indian organisation to another Indian organisation in foreign currency is banned under an existing piece of legislation, Singh said that those aspects were being examined. "Let me assure you all that Prasar Bharati would abide by the law of this country and so would BCCI," he added.

DD TO TELECAST ICC TROPHY, HOLLAND CUP

In a clear bid to augment its revenues, DD has bagged the terrestrial rights for quite a few up and coming cricket tourneys, some of them on a revenue-sharing basis with the original rights holder the Newscorp-owned Global Cricket Corporation (GCC).

The telecast rights obtained by DD include the Champions Trophy later this year and the one to be played in 2006, apart from the terrestrial rights of the cricket World Cup in the West Indies in 2007 and the Holland Cup.

DD will telecast live nine matches each from the ICC Champions Trophy and 19 from the ICC Cricket World Cup, including all India matches, semis and finals and 'Big Gun' matches, particularly on weekends.

According to Sarma, for the Champions Trophy later this year, a minimum guarantee of Rs 7.5 million per One Dayer would be provided by Nimbus Communications while the revenue share would be in the ratio of 80:20 in favour of Nimbus (GCC has appointed Harish Thawani's sports management company to exclusively handle on air sales of these events).

In the case of Holland Cup, which promises to be high voltage drama with India, Pakistan and Australia participating, Sony Entertainment TV India, the rights holder, would provides the bank guarantee and make available signals of India matches to DD on a revenue-sharing basis, the details of which were not disclosed.

As ministry's Singh rightly pointed out --- half in jest --- that with the Olympics coverage turning out to be a financial loss for Prasar Bharati (expenses: Rs 250 million; revenue: approximately Rs 80 million), maybe advertising revenue from cricket does some compensation.

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