Zee wins Lanka series satellite rights for Rs 195 million

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: The change of guard at the top of the Board of Cricket Control in Indian (BCCI) has had its immediate fallout. Subhash Chandra's Zee Telefilms has bagged the satellite rights for the upcoming three-Test series with Sri Lanka, which kicks off in Chennai tomorrow.

According to sources close to the developments, Zee paid Rs 195 million for the telecast rights. Expectedly, the terrestrial telecast will be with Prasar Bharati.

The signing of the deal between the BCCI and Zee follows a directive from the Delhi High Court today instructing the cricket board to invite bids for awarding the telecast rights and take a decision by today itself.

Zee's bid was the highest ahead of both Nimbus (Rs 194 million) and ESPN (Rs 188 million). A point of note is that Nimbus' bid was in any case rejected on grounds of non-conformity.

Zee Sports business head Himanshu Mody said, We are delighted to acquire the cable and satellite rights for the three Test match series between India and Sri Lanka. In an open and transparent meeting with the BCCI, in which all bidders were present, we managed to secure the rights for the series. Acquiring the rights is an assertion of our commitment to provide exciting cricket to viewers in India."

Mody further added, We are sure to repeat the success achieved in Standard Chartered Afro Asia Cup and Kingfisher Challenger Series through world-class production, marketing and distribution strength of Zee Sports. We will continue to build on that equity and provide even greater enjoyment to the fans of the game, in the tournament to be played."

Meanwhile, Cricinfo has quoted Rajasthan Cricket Association president Lalit Modi as saying that the new committee committee has renegotiated terms with Doordarshan. As per the new deal, "DD will continue to market their own rights, and the BCCI will receive 75 per cent of that. That's a 5 per cent reduction." Earlier it was an 80:20 revenue share agreement without a minimum guarantee.

Among the other benefits that the BCCI had won, according to Modi, are that the production deal with TWI, which was for $1.052 million, has been renegotiated to $977,000 (a saving of $77,000 for the BCCI). Modi also drew attention to the international rights agreement, which was with Nimbus for a 80:20 revenue share. "We have been able to negotiate with Nimbus and bring them down to 85 per cent-15 per cent," Cricinfo quotes Modi as saying.

Nimbus chairman Harish Thawani, however, categorically denies that there have been any renegotiation of the international rights agreement. Asserts Thawani, "The revenue share agreement is still at 80:20. There has been no change in that."

According to Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma, Doordarshan will be airing the Tests on its terretrial network as it has the rights for that. Rights fee has not been dislosed by Prasar Bharati, which manages DD and All India Radio.

"DD will be airing the matches on DD National, which is a terrestrial channel," Sarma said, refusing to come forth with details relating to ad sales and sponsorship deals.

It is expected that with Zee Sports also telecasting it, some of the sponsors on DD for the recently-concluded one-day series against Sri Lanka and South Africa, especially the state-controlled organisations like BSNL, are likely to be on DD's Test telecast.

From the two one-day series, DD managed to mop up around Rs 1.35 billion, according to Sarma.

When contacted, ESPN Star Sports refused to comment on the developments.

And what of the long-term television rights tender, which will now be for 2006 onwards? Indications are that fresh tenders will be issued in about four weeks time. Assuming that the legal logjam will be be sorted out by then of course.

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