After hearing Zee's side, case adjourned to Monday

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court has adjourned hearing in the much-contested BCCI cricket telecast rights case to Monday after Zee Telefilms exhaustively put forward its argument.

Arguing before a two-judge Bench of Chief Justice DS Bhandari and Justice DY Chandrachud, Zee's counsel argued that ESPN has not produced a 'clean signal' of live cricket matches completely in-house. Neither the West Indies-India series nor the South Africa-India and England matches were exclusively produced by ESPN. It was only in the Asia Cup that the production was done in-house.

Zee raised the point that ESPN had sidelined the consortium clause and was creating confusion over production facilities. The 'hawk eye' camera and other facilities belonged to proprietary companies and neither to ESPN or to Zee. 'Today to produce the match for telecasting, cameras are planted. All of us rent out those facilities. It is only a question of how much each of us do,' argued the Zee counsel.

ESPN had been showing cricket in India so far. Zee has a presence in 88 countries and has been showing cricket when India plays overseas. "If BCCI is entertaining Zee today, the board obviously considers us eligible," said the Zee counsel.

Justice Chandrachud queried Zee counsel on whether the company had experience in TV production of cricket matches as Zee had mentioned 'telecast but no production' experience in its bid for the BCCI rights. Zee counsel admitted that Zee had never produced clean signals. "But neither ESPN nor Zee have produced clean signals for two years," the counsel said.

Zee pointed out that PriceWaterhouse Coopers was the global auditor of ESPN and had a conflict of interest. "PwC had not sent any reply to Zee on its inquiries. But ESPN had got a response from PwC in a letter on September 6," the counsel said.

India has emerged as the largest commercial market for cricket and accounts for 80 per cent of the worldwide revenue for the sport. BCCI has put up tenders and an Indian-owned company with a homegrown network with large production facilities has bid. "Let's not miss the wood for the trees," the Zee counsel said. "The public interest has suffered. ESPN has put no argument saying that it has been detrimental to public interest. They are only working for their interest and monopoly."

Earlier, ESPN counsel argued that the licence was under Zee TV, USA. Zee had never done any cricket production, he added.

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