BCCI 'almost certain' to give India-Pak tour rights to DD

NEW DELHI: The Indian cricket board is toying with the idea of handing over the telecast rights of the upcoming India-Pakistan home series to pubcaster Doordarshan, while giving the non-India rights to a neutral broadcaster.

A senior official of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) today told that barring last-minute hitches, it's "almost certain" that DD would get the telecast rights for the India region as the Board doesn't want to kick up more dust by inviting bids, which is sure to raise the hackles of the warring Zee Telefilms and ESPN Star Sports.

"It may also happen that for non-India rights, a broadcaster apart from ESS and Zee is given the rights," the BCCI official said. This could mean that either SET India or Ten Sports, both of whom lost out in the earlier rounds of financial fisticuffs, could be a contender.

What may put a spoke in the BCCI wheel is the legal cover that ESS has already sought by moving an application in the Supreme Court that for the India-Pak series BCCI cannot ignore it and award the rights arbitrarily to somebody else without studying its claims too.

The BCCI official, however, was not ready to hold forth on a concrete time frame for making an announcement regarding telecast rights of the India-Pakistan series. "Ideally, it should have been tied up, but now should be done as soon as possible," the official added.

DD has admitted that it has been in touch with BCCI for the India-Pakistan series that can turn out to be financially lucrative considering the mass hysteria such clashes generate in the sub-continent.

However, the uncertainty that hangs over the telecast issue is not proving to be good for the BCCI or Indian cricket, the official admitted.

Yesterday, in a lethal bouncer that almost knocked out Zee Telefilms completely, the Supreme Court ruled that the Indian cricket board was not a 'State' as defined under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution and, hence, cannot be sued for alleged violation of fundamental rights.

However, the apex court also suggested that some lower court could take up such cases under Article 226. The three-two split SC ruling is important, as the Indian cricket board's case would have major impact on the autonomy of various sports bodies in the country and their subsequent functioning.

Dismissing the case, the court observed, "The petitioner has failed to establish that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is a state body."

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