ESS moves SC challenging HC order to share feed with DD

NEW DELHI: ESPN Star Sports, exclusive telecast rights holder for the ongoing Bangladesh-India series, this morning filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court challenging a directive issued yesterday by the Kerala High Court that it share its feed with national broadcaster Doordarshan.

The case will be heard by a vacation bench of the apex court. No time has been assigned yet for arguments and late evening ESS executives expressed hopes that the court would take up the case tomorrow or at the earliest.

In deference to a high court order passed yesterday, ESPN allowed DD to carry its feed of the first one-dayer between Bangladesh and India today in toto. The next match is scheduled for Saturday.

A two-judge division bench of the Kerala High Court of Chief Justice B Subhashan Reddy and Justice Kurian Joseph, in an interim order, had directed ESS to share revenues at the ratio of 80:20, subject to such terms and conditions as may be prescribed by the Supreme Court in pending cases.

However, when contacted by this evening, an official of DD pointed out that it is likely to reiterate its demands in the Supreme Court too after joining issues. DD had submitted in the high court earlier that revenue share of 80:20 is not acceptable to it and that such deals should be signed as per precedence and past agreements that had been agreed upon between the two parties.

The DD official pointed out that it had submitted in the high court that a fair deal would comprise Rs 10 million in minimum guarantee per one-dayer (to be paid by ESS to DD) after which a 80:20 advertising revenue share, in 

favour of ESS, looked okay.

The high court Bench yesterday had made it clear that Doordarshan should exhibit the logo of ESPN and advertisements, which ESPN has committed for the one-day series.

On Monday, ESS had submitted before the Bench that it holds exclusive right to telecast the India-Bangladesh cricket series and was not willing to share its revenue with Doordarshan for telecasting the three one-dayers.

Senior advocate Rakesh Munchal, representing ESPN, had submitted before the Kerala High Court, that ESS was "not agreeable to revenue sharing."

ESPN would suffer a "huge financial loss" if asked to share its revenue with Doordarshan in the ratio of 80:20, Munchal had argued. In his submission Munchal had contended that the daily loss to the sports broadcaster would be Rs 100 million if it was forced to share the feed with DD. Therefore the total loss as per ESS' claims is Rs 300 million for the three ODIs.

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