Madras HC restrains BCCI from awarding telecast rights till 17 February

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The Madras High Court today passed an injunction restraining the Indian cricket board from awarding television telecast rights to any broadcaster or party till the next date of hearing on 17 February.

The court's observations came on a petition filed yesterday by Zee Telefilms contending that cancellation of the bidding process by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) amounted to breach of its fundamental rights under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution.

The court's observations today also means that the BCCI would find it hard to negotiate with any broadcaster, including Indian pubcaster Doordarshan, on the rights for the upcoming India-Pakistan cricket home series beginning early March.

Along with the Zee petition, ESPN Star Sports too moved an application some time back in the Supreme Court seeking legal protection against BCCI awarding cricket rights to anybody else without considering ESS' bid too.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had dismissed Zee's petition but suggested that a lower court could take up such cases under Article 226.

Zee's scrip reacted positively to the court's verdict today, moving up by two per cent to Rs 154.75 at the time of filing this report.

In case the Madras high court case drags, the board could revisit an earlier proposal it had been considering, which envisaged producing the cricket matches itself, buying time on a channel for telecast like producers of sponsored serials on Doordarshan do and then market the commerical time itself.

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