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Sri Lanka Cricket issues tender; Ten retains 2004 broadcast rights

MUMBAI: The legal wrangling that has surrounded the issue of broadcast rights to cricket emanating from Sri Lanka appears to have been settled once and for all.

A tender document issued yesterday by the island nation's cricket board, Sri Lanka Cricket, regarding television and sponsorship rights for the next three years from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006 makes it clear that the broadcast rights in Asia, Middle East and Europe for 2004 both for television and the Internet will remain with Ten Sports.

The tender covers the tours by Australia and South Africa in 2004 and by the West Indies in 2005. The tender also includes tours by Bangladesh, Pakistan and South Africa in 2006.

According to the document, a copy of which is with indiantelevision.com, five companies are in the running for the rights. They are PCM Sports (an Indian event management company), SET Satellite Singapore, Taj Television (which operates Ten Sports), TWI and World Sport Nimbus.

The rights on offer are for all television, radio and sponsorship rights for the six tours mentioned above. The succesful company is also obligated to produce the games and provide a feed free of charge to Sri Lankan state broadcaster Rupavahini for all six events and to Ten Sports for the first two events. The deadline for submision of the bids is 27 December.

For those who came in late, there was a three way tussle involving Sri Lanka's cricket board, Taj Television and World Sport Nimbus (WSN) as to who had held the broadcast rights till 2004 and a hearing to this effect was going on in Singapore. The exact terms of the deal that have been reached as far as the 2004 tours by South Africa and Australia are concerned are as follows:

As per the agreement with Taj, "Territory (for which Taj holds broadcast rights) shall mean the whole of Asia (excluding terrestrial broadcast in Sri Lanka), Middle East and Europe (excluding England) and excluding Australia in the case of the Australian tours and South Africa in the case of the South African tours, only."

With regard to the 2005 and 2006 tours, "Territory" means outside Sri Lanka, excluding the North American market for broadband / wireless rights.

The tender mentions that the party should specify the quality of production it intends to provide. The winning party has to provide an irrevocable unconditional bank guarantee on a tour by tour basis. In addition to the above mentioned tours Sri Lanka Cricket is also holding dialogue with the Indian Cricket Board for Saurav's boys to tour the island anytime from 2004- December 2006. The winning bidder will have the first rights of refusal should India agree.

The tender has explained that sponsorship rights will include title sponsorship, 50 ground runners, boundary line tape and commercial rights that will rise out of related promotional, merchandising and licensing opportunities.

Sri Lanka Cricket has further stressed that should a tour get affected by factors beyond its control such as riots, it will not be liable for default on complying with the offer agreed upon. All in all it looks a great deal because the only weak team visiting the island is Bangladesh. First up though are Australia who travel in February for three tests matches and five ODIs.

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