Television

Telecast row: BCCI says keeping all options open

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NEW DELHI: As arguments in the cricket telecast

went into Day 4 in the Madras High Court, the prospect of the Pakistan teams tour getting further delayed loomed ever larger, even as the Indian cricket board said it is keeping all options open.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com this evening, Board

of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president RS Mahendra said,There is a possibility of the tour getting delayed if the court case drags on."

He added: "But since the issue is in the court, BCCI

cannot do much and I don't want to comment any further

on the matter.

However, Mahendra admitted that the cricket board is keeping all options open,including organising the telecast at short notice if a direction from the Madras HC is obtained in time. But he did not indicate what would be a good time or deadline for organising these logistics.

The issue is being heard by the court and I don't want to comment any further,he stressed, while pointing out that talks with Indian pubcaster Doordarshan have been held in the past before a petition was filed by Zee Telefilms in Madras.

However,while Mahendra's comments to indiantelevision.com were quite measured,in statements made to the news channels, he held out the threat that the Indo-Pak series might even have to be called off if the telecast issue was not sorted out.

The Pakistan cricket team is scheduled to arrive on 28 February to play three Tests and six one-day internationals.

ZEE OFFERS TO PRODUCE SERIES FOR PRASAR BHARATI

Original highest bidder for the telecast rights Zee TV, meanwhile, came out today with a fresh compromise offer: to produce the Indo-Pak series for pubcaster Prasar Bharati. Zee has offered to produce the series at no cost and also at "its risk". Zee additionally has offered to deposit the revenues that might accrue from the sale of advertising on the series to a mutually agreed (with the BCCI) upon account.

Zee also announced that if given the rights, they were ready to telecast the series even with just a 24-hour notice.

India report today quoted Mahendra, in the eye of the storm now that Jagmohan Dalmiya has stepped aside as president, as saying the Board was not averse to making a request to the court to allow the BCCI to proceed in the matter under emergency circumstances.

BCCI vice-president Rajeev Shukla spoke on similar lines when he said that the court should offer a "compromise solution" that covered the present series and give a final ruling on the matter as soon as possible so as to facilitate a permanent resolution of the vexed matter.

NO SERIES WITHOUT TELECAST: ICC CHIEF

The International Cricket Council president Ehsan Mani also weighed in to the imbroglio today when he warned that without live telecast the matches could not be played.

Speaking to PTI, Mani raised a pertinent point when he said, "I am surprised that why every time this matter is taken to court at the last moment as earlier also it had happened."

If one is to go by past precedence, however, in the event of a ruling not being forthcoming, Prasar Bharati could well end up getting the series as was the case in the recent series that were held.

In the fixtures held last year in October-November involving Australia, South Africa and Pakistan, Prasar Bharati telecast the matches and Ten Sports did the production for a fee. Zee's latest offer has only thrown another angle to what continues to be a zero sum game for all the parties involved.

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