BCCI says cricket telecast will be on DD

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: Even as the Supreme Court today referred the telecast rights issue to a five-judge constitutional bench, the Indian cricket board submitted in the court that the Indian pubcaster would be telecasting the Australia and South Africa series domestically.



This was conveyed to the apex court by the Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) counsel KK Venugopal, who added that the international rights would be given to "somebody else". This, he contended, was being done because of the gravity of the issue and that a situation is being attempted to be averted where Indian public do not get to see the matches being played in India.

On cue, ESPN-Star Sports has written a letter to the BCCI offering to produce the live telecast of the matches and share the feed with Doordarshan. "In view of the fact that the contract for telecast of cricket matches awarded to Zee Telefilms has been cancelled, we are ready to produce the live telecast of the matches," the Press Trust of India, quoting from the letter, reported today.

In its letter, ESS has again reiterated that it should be given the cricket rights as it has "all the infrastructure to do the live telecast of matches."


In the letter, ESS has further committed to give BCCI all the net (international?) advertisement revenues the channel earns as well as the "net share of DD revenues net of costs."

Efforts made by to get comments from BCCI supremo Jagmohan Dalmiya and Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma proved futile. While Dalmiya refused to comment at all on the issue, including the fact whether an agreement with Prasar Bharati has been reached or not, Sarma could not be contacted as he was out of the country, scheduled to return late this evening.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has adjourned to Tuesday its hearing of Zee Telefilm's petition in the India cricket telecast rights case.

Reflecting the seriousness with which the apex court views the matter, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Santosh Hegde referred the case to a five-judge constitutional bench that will hear arguments in the case to which main respondent BCCI has already filed its caveat.

The first issue that the court will have to get out of the way is whether Zee's petition is maintainable or not. In its petition, Zee has contended that it is the rightful owner of the cricket rights as it has deposited $ 20 million with the Indian cricket board as per terms and conditions. It has also contended that the cricket board's decision to cancel an earlier tender process, which saw Zee emerge as the highest bidder with a quote of $ 308 million, is unjust and the court should overturn that decision.

The respondents in the case include the government of India, c BCCI and PriceWaterhouse Cooper (PwC), the audit firm that vetted the various bids.

Zee had moved the Supreme Court last Wednesday after the BCCI the previous day filed an affidavit in the Mumbai HC that it was cancelling the tendering process and would retain the rights of Indian cricket with itself. Immediately after that, ESPN Star Sports, a joint venture between Walt Disney and News Corp, withdrew its petition against the award of the rights to Zee.

Zee had said in its petition that its contract for cricket telecast rights with the BCCI was signed and was not incomplete as the BCCI maintains.

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