In an attempt to turn around a losing battle, ESPN STAR Sports has challenged BCCI decision to award conditional allotment of broadcast rights for all international cricket matches to be played in India to Zee Network in the Mumbai High Court.
An official bulletin issued by ESPN, late yesterday evening, quoted Rik Dovey, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports, Asia, as saying, “Unfortunately, we are left with no other option but to resort to the law in an attempt to bring fair-dealing and justice to the process. ESPN STAR Sports was the highest eligible bidder under the rules of bidding specified by the BCCI and now the Board has changed the entire process of bidding in violation of rules set by BCCI itself, to favour our competitor by giving them an unfair advantage.”
Quoting RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India, to further explain ESPN’s stand on taking a legal recourse, the release said, “As described in the terms of the BCCI tender document, Zee should not have been allowed to bid in the first place. Zee does not qualify because it does not have any experience of broadcasting or producing live international cricket event as specified in the tender. Clearly, the required technical evaluation of the bids has not been carried out. On Sunday, the BCCI changed the rules to unfairly disadvantage our bid without giving us any further rights to bid.”
Asserting ESPN’s experience in broadcasting cricket, the statement further claimed that ESPN has already done 14,822 hours of ‘live’ international telecast in cricket (till August 31, 2004), besides 4,176 hours of cricket-related programming.
However, Zee Telefilms has already filed a caveat in the High Court in anticipation of ESPN taking the battle to court, inform sources in Zee.