ACC invites bids for Asia Cup TV, radio live telecast rights

MUMBAI: The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) has invited bids for the live television and radio broadcasting rights for the Asia Cup to be held in Sri Lanka from 16 July - 2 August 2004.

The teams participating in the event are India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Hong Kong and the UAE. The tourney will feature 13 one-day internationals.

Ads which appeared in Sri Lanka's Daily News and UAE's Khaleej Times yesterday state that the documents in respect of the bids may be obtained between 28 May and 9 June from the Kuala Lumpur office of the ACC after payment of $ 1,000 (non-refundable) through telegraphic transfer. The last date for receiving the bids is 10 June (up to 4 pm Malaysia time).

As reported by earlier, the ACC had initially hoped to finalise television rights and sponsors by 22 May.Broadcasters ESPN Star Sports, Ten Sports and pubcaster Doordarshan, are all in the fray for the telecast rights. DD has already written to the ACC expressing interest in the rights. Sony has also expressed its willingness to compete for the bid "if approached."

Whatever the others may have stated for the record, the real fight for the ACC telecast rights seems to be between ESS and Ten Sports.

And it is not just for this particular tourney that the two sports broadcasters are at loggerheads. After the Asia Cup, there is the tri-series involving India, Pakistan and Australia to be played in Holland in August. Then there is the three ODIs that are scheduled to be played between India and England in England in the first week of September just ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy (for which Sony has the cable & satellite rights).

And of course there is the biggest prize of them all ---telecast rights for series organised by Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) in India. Bidding for BCCI rights for the next four years is expected to open by July-August.

This one will, however, be no two-horse race. The rights currently rest with DD so expect a hard fight with political pressures brought to bear before it lets it go. DD's shenanigans in the recently concluded India-Pakistan series for which Ten Sports had exclusive telecast rights are fresh in the collective memory.

Then there is Sony, which also could make a bid. There is a question mark over Sony's bidding though since it has already shelled out big money for the ICC World Cup and Champions Trophy rights till 2007. So whether it has money to spare for what is expected to be an even more expensive property is the question.

Lastly, there is Subrato Roy's Sahara Group, which is tipped to make a try for the BCCI rights. Sahara is one company which is flush with funds so if it does enter the fray the bidding might well go to astronomical heights.

But before all that there is the Asia Cup. And for both ESPN Star Sports and Ten Sports, it could well be a prestige issue as to who gets it.

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