Telecast issue: BCCI seeks legal advise

 MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: The cricket soap-opera takes another turn.

The Indian cricket board today decided to seek legal opinion on telecast rights issue and also form a three-member sub-committee to assess the legal advice.

The legal opinion that would be obtained from the former attorney-general Soli Sorabjee would help the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) panel to form of its submission to the Delhi High Court on 19 October.

Though the BCCI criticised its marketing panel for the news leaks, cricketing sources said that Sorabjee has been contacted for an opinion.

"Soli Sorabjee is likely to give his opinion over the eligibility criteria for the rights by tomorrow or early Tuesday, which will be studied by the new panel," a source familiar with the development in BCCI told today.

On a petition filed by Zee Telefiims in September, the Delhi HC had allowed BCCI to open the technical bid for the rights after a few hearings.

Without elaborating on what transpired at a marketing committee meeting today in Mumbai, BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra only said that resignation of union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar from the marketing panel has been accepted.

"I want to clarify one thing. Sharad Pawar (also president of the Mumbai Cricket Association) has resigned because of his official position and not for other reasons attributed in the news reports, which are defaming the Board," a Press Trust of India report quoted Mahendra as saying.

The new sub-committee includes Mahendra, former BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya and Punjab cricket association chief and a Dalmiya critic I S Bindra.

Contacted by today, Zee Telefilms senior vice-president Ashish Kaul said, "We are hopeful that Zee won't be discriminated against and the telecast rights will be restored to us."

The present bidders for telecast rights for matches to be orgainsed by the BCCI in India include Zee, ESPN-Star Sports, Sony Entertainment Television India and pubcaster Prasar Bharati.

The present legal impasse is part of long drawn court cases first initiated by ESS and then Zee Telefilms.

Last year, when the BCCI had invited bids for domestic cricket, Zee Telefilms had topped the chart with a humongous quote of $ 308 million.

When the BCCI then announced that the rights would be given to Zee, ESS had moved the court challenging the decision, which has led to the present situation and financial losses, as claimed by BCCI, to the Board.

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