The Hindustan Times on Sunday had reported that Prasar Bharti has taken ZEE Teleflims subsidiary Buddha Films to court for non-payment of dues as per an agreement amongst them. The report further went on say that the Delhi court has asked Buddha Films to pay Rs.67 crores within three weeks failing which Prasar Bharti could invoke the bank guarantee for the same amount. The report also gave details of AOL Time Warner investing over Rs. 700 crores in ZEE Telefilms for 10% equity as per certain unique terms and conditions.
Buddha Films had exclusive airtime marketing rights for cricket in India from Prasar Bharti. The arrangement between Prasar Bharti and Buddha Films was effective from February 2000 onwards for close to four and a half years.
Since the arrangement was agreed upon, three series have happened in India namely India South Africa in February 2000, India Zimbabwe in Nov Dec 2000 and India Australia in Feb April 2001. The current India England series is the fourth one amongst the planned nine series over the period of this arrangement. Reportedly Buddha Films had agreed to pay close to Rs. 450 crores over the period of four and half years as part of this arrangement to Prasar Bharti.
As per the newspaper report, if Buddha Films does not pay the specified amount, Prasar Bharti could invoke the bank guarantee of Rs. 67 crores. If this happens as reported, this could be in the third week of December and India England series continues well beyond the third week of December into early February. The third test match starts is from 19th December till 23rd December. The one dayers are slated to happen from 22nd January onwards. The first ODI is on 22nd January in Kolkatta and the final fixture is the fifth day/night ODI in Mumbai on 3rd February.
After reading the story in the newspaper, one wonders " Whether the arrangement between Buddha films and Prasar Bharti to sell airtime will be affected in any manner after this three week period?" It is a question that will get answered, as time progresses in the coming weeks and media watchers will have to wait a while before they can reach any conclusions.