Television

HC issues notice to Centre, BCCI on telecast rights

MUMBAI: Responding to Zee Telefilms' (ZTL) petition seeking the quashing of BCCI's 'invitation to tender' (ITT) for telecast and broadcast rights for the next four years, the Delhi High Court has issued notices to the Centre and the Board for Control of Cricket in India (BCCI).

A division bench of acting chief justice B A Khan and justice Madan B Lokur asked the Centre and BCCI to respond to the petition by 24 August, the next date of hearing, reports PTI. The last date for submission of ITT is 26 August.

ZTL had alleged that the eligibility conditions were framed to oust bidders from India in its petition filed on 19 August. ZTL counsel Pratibha M Singh said the present set of eligibility conditions for ITT was framed by BCCI in such a manner so as to try to "exclude" the petitioner and/or other Indian television channels and favour ESPN Star Sports.

BCCI had released tenders for the telecast of 130 days of cricket between October 2005 to September 2009 last week. The TV tender rights document contains a three-year experience clause which effectively rules out Zee TV from making a bid. The experience clause reportedly insists that one has to have three years of experience in telecasting cricket matches of international repute in India and abroad.

On 20 August, BCCI issued an addendum to the ITT which states, "After the words "(not also through any agency by whatever name called, the following words are being added: "Except that the original First license being executed by any agency for and on behalf of the Original Event Owner)."

According to some industry sources, the addendum was allegedly sent out by BCCI after it realised that Sony Entertainment Television's ICC cricket and all of ESPN's cricket came via agents (Bangladesh originally via World Tel, the other ones via Octagon).

In the addendum notice, a copy of which is in the possession of indiantelevision.com, BCCI states that the addendum is issued due to supervening circumstances. "By invoking Clause 3.1.2 read with Clauses 7 (b) and (c) of part 1 of the ITT, the addendum is issued relating to and/or concerning "Eligibility" as provided Clause 2 of Part 1 of ITT," it says.

TENDER SUBMISSION DEADLINE NOW 26 AUGUST

The addendum also extended the deadline for submission of tenders till 2 pm (IST), 26 August.

It may be recalled that a senior official of BCCI had told Indiantelevision.com on 4 August (the day the cricket board met to decide on the the tender drafts) that the eligibility criteria drafted, once okayed, would effectively rule out Zee’s participation in the bidding process.

“After all, there has to be some criteria. We are looking at saying in black and white that to be eligible for the rights, one has to have three years of experience in telecasting cricket matches of international repute in India and abroad,” the BCCI official said, making it clear that the cricket board had not taken very kindly to the long drawn litigation process involving Zee and ESS that has cost the Board dearly in terms of revenue.

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