PCB says will honour telecast deal with Ten Sports

MUMBAI: The Pakistan Cricket Board has denied a report in The News Pakistan which stated that it was reviewing the television rights deal it had signed with the Dubai based Taj Television Ltd, which broadcasts Ten Sports.


"It is clarified that PCB will honour all existing contracts to which it is legally committed and that ancillary marketing contracts would be negotiated, openly and transparently, in the light of existing contracts," said PCB chairman Shaharyar M Khan in a press release.

The News also carried a report today headlined "PCB legally committed to honour existing contracts". In the report, a senior PCB official is quoted as saying Taj had "conveyed to the board on Wednesday that it required cooperation from the board instead of confusing statements from it if it was meet its target of marketing the television rights of the Indian series to a wide international market."

Added Taj Television CEO Chris McDonald in another release: "Taj Television Ltd has entered into a valid and legally binding contract for the exclusive rights in India to the India tour as well as to all other international cricket to take place in Pakistan through 2008. We enjoy a very positive working relationship with the PCB and have met, and will continue to meet, all our contractual obligations to the PCB."

McDonald added that Taj's "broadcast plans for the tour are in place and we are working hard to provide the viewers of India the best cricket production ever for this all-important series."

Taj Television had in march 2003 signed a $42.6 million deal with the PCB which gave it the rights to telecast all cricket matches in Pakistan for five years on its channel Ten Sports.

Speaking to from Pakistan PCB media manager Samiul Hassan, while reiterating the PCB's position, pointed out that should any other channel desire to telecast the matches it should deal directly with Taj Television. "Be it Sony or ESPN they will have to speak to Ten Sports as we have a contract with the network," he said.

Amongst the ancillary marketing rights that are being thrown open for bidding include radio, special events, ground and in-stadia advertisements.

Khan has stated in the press release the PCB is cobbling together a team of independent marketing consultants to help it with its marketing and commercial deals during India's tour of Pakistan. Two have already been hired. This includes former Pakistan Tobacco Co marketing executive Riaz Mahmood and the reputed Lahore-based lawyer Ahmad Hosain. Mahmood is currently the chief executive of the Board of Social Marketing Pakistan - now Greenstar - and has twice held the position of position of president of the Council of Marketing of Pakistan.

Questions are being raised whether the PCB would wilt under political pressure from the Indian side - and coerce Taj Television to share the telecast rights with Indian state broadcaster DD. Especially considering the fact that the Indian government will want to tomtom how it has improved Indo-Pak relations in an election year and brought back Indo-Pak cricket after a long gap. DD offers five times more audiences than that is offered by Ten Sports.

"We will deal with the situation when it comes," proferred Hassan. "As of now we are committed to our legal contract." 

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