"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 indiantelevision.com 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
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."