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Ten Sports gets SET to win

30-September-2004
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Ten Sports gets SET to win

Cricket lovers in the country may get to watch India-Australia and India-South Africa series on Sony Entertainment Television (SET) if the Supreme Court allows it. The lowest bidder for the four-year cricket telecast rights, Ten Sports, has got an offer from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to produce the first two cricket series in the new season, and Sony has been approached for showing the matches on its channel. Both parties have said “yes” to BCCI.

The offer is subject to Supreme Court approval, sources close to the development told FE. The Aussie series begins on October 6, and live telecast of the matches is mandatory as per international norms.

It is learnt that BCCI is in the process of seeking court permission for a contingency plan involving Sony and Ten Sports, as time is running out.

The two highest bidders for the four-year rights to cricket matches to be played in India, Zee Telefilms and ESPN-Star Sports, are locked in a court battle right now. Zee moved Supreme Court last week, challenging the BCCI decision to cancel the telecast rights tender. ESPN-Star has been made a party to the case.

When contacted, Sony Entertainment Television CEO Kunal Dasgupta refused to comment on the issue. But Sony sources confirmed the BCCI offer and that the channel had agreed to beam the two series. “But everything depends on the court order,” a company source said.

Industry estimates point out that on an average $2 million of ad revenues are expected from a Test match. If approved by the court, a revenue-sharing arrangement is likely between the parties involved in the telecast of the matches.

Although Prasar Bharati was earlier approached by BCCI to telecast the India-Australia series, the pubcaster decided to wait for a court direction on the subject. According to sources, Prasar Bharati is interested in one-dayers but not in the Test matches. Incidentally, the series against Australia and South Africa will have six Test matches, and no ODIs.

Both Zee and ESPN-Star had offered to pass on their ad revenues to BCCI if given a chance to telecast the India-Australia series.

Meanwhile, the Union government, which is a party to the ongoing case in the apex court, is likely to submit a written submission to the court on Wednesday that BCCI is performing a function on behalf of the ‘state’. In the ESPN-BCCI case in Bombay High Court, the Union government had stated that the Indian cricket board was an autonomous body. BCCI has been arguing that it is neither a state, nor an authority within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.

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