Television

Prasar Bharati to telecast, production BCCI's choice

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NEW DELHI: Acting on expected lines, the Madras High Court, in an interim order today, ruled that the upcoming India-Pakistan cricket series telecast be done by pubcaster Prasar Bharati.

According to sources in the BCCI, board members met today to decide on various aspects of the Indo-Pak series, including the still vexed telecast issue.

However, till late in the evening, no decision had been taken on who would do the marketing and production of the cricket matches. Neither has any decision been taken on the overseas rights. BCCI has also conveyed to Prasar Bharati that the marketing would be done by an independent agency on behalf of the cricket board.

The court also ruled that the production contract for the cricket series would go to any organisation that the Indian Cricket board deemed fit OTHER THAN the two warring parties to the dispute.

What this in essence means is that, like the previous three fixtures that were held last October-November involving Australia, South Africa and Pakistan (BCCI silver Jubilee ODI), it will be national broadcaster Doordarshan that telecasts the matches. And if the precedent of those fixtures are anything to go by, it looks likely that Dubai-based Ten Sports will do the production.

When contacted by indiantelevision.com, BCCI chief Ranbir Singh Mahendra cautiously said, "I will have to study the ruling with my lawyers before we make any decision on who will do the production."

Zee Telefilms, of course, expressed happiness about the ruling. When contacted, Ashish Kaul, vice president, Zee Telefilms Limited said,"We are extremely pleased with the judgment of the Madras court. Though this is an interim judgement, we believe that the final judgement will put this entire case in a right prespective. For the first time, the courts have been able to see the nexus between BCCI and ESPN over telecast of cricket and hence has not allowed BCCI to give the production rights to ESPN."

While Zee may have put up a brave front, the stock markets didn't see the developments in quite the same light. The media major's scrip was down 3.37 per cent on the day from its opening of Rs 153.85 and closed at Rs 147.25.

ESPN India MD RC Venkateish expressed his disappointment, but said that the company still respects the courts observations.

"Under the circumstances, it would seem that Prasar Bharati is in the drivers seat,he said. Asked, whether ESPN and Star Sports bottomlines would get hit because of the loss of the high-grosser Indo-Pak series, Venkateish explained that given the telecast impasse and the short notice at which things would have had to be organised, it would not have been possible to maximise revenue.

The advertising cost could have covered the cost of acquisition,but to successfully enhance the scope of affiliate revenue (susbscription revenue) ideally more time is needed, which would not have happened with the Indo-Pak

series,Venkateish said.

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