With just five days to go for the India-Australia cricket series, now public broadcaster Prasar Bharati is planning to move court over the telecast rights issue.
According to CEO K S Sarma, Prasar Bharati is an “aggrieved party”. He said: “We had bid higher than Sony (in the original tender), and yet we haven’t been given the opportunity to telecast the Australia and South Africa series.” On Thursday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that it holds the rights, while asking Ten Sports and Sony Entertainment Television (SET) to produce and telecast six Test matches against Australia and South Africa.
Although on Friday morning Mr Sarma told reporters, on the sidelines of a press conference, that Prasar Bharati was waiting for a letter from Sony, so that a revenue-share deal could be struck, things had changed by evening. Zee Telefilms filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking telecast rights for the first two series, after which Prasar Bharati too decided to go the legal way.
When contacted, Mr Sarma told FE: “(Sony CEO) Kunal Dasgupta cannot send us the offer details. The agreement has been put on hold by BCCI after Zee filed a petition over the grant of interim rights.” Notice has been served on Sony also, in this case. “Prasar Bharati is moving court on Monday,” Mr Sarma said.
Despite the legal tussle, industry experts point out that there’s no time left for any drastic decisions now. Any broadcaster would need at least seven days to prepare for production and telecast of international matches, and the case comes up for hearing on October 5, just a day before the India-Australia series begins. Live telecast of the matches is mandatory as per international norms.
Also, the legal view is that there’s no substance in Prasar Bharati’s claim that BCCI should have made the offer to it for interim rights. “Even as Prasar Bharati had bid higher than Sony, the original tender stands cancelled,” said a media lawyer.