Zee Telefilms Limited (ZTL) has received approval for its upcoming channel Zee Sports. This was conveyed to the company’s shareholders by ZTL chairman Subhash Chandra at its Annual General Meeting held in Mumbai on Tuesday.
This comes at a time when the entire dispute over telecast rights is under dispute and is before the Supreme Court. "We got the approval last evening, and we will begin test signals from tomorrow," said Mr Chandra. Responding to a shareholder’s query, he pointed out that the matter was sub-judice. "All I can say is that we have full faith in the judicial system and we will get justice," he added.
ESPN-Star Sports had taken the issue to court after the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) awarded the rights on an "in-principle" basis." ESPN-Star Sports maintained that Zee did not possess experience in cricket broadcasting. Subsequently, BCCI cancelled the tender.
Mr Chandra emphasised that Zee was committed to sports. "India is not just about cricket. Foreigners have milked cricket and Zee is keen on developing other sports as well," he explained. Answering a query on experience in sports broadcasting, he said: "The experience issue has been demolished since cricket is produced by third party experts. ESPN-Star Sports also does not have experience." To date, the legal expenses on this case for Zee has been Rs 23 lakh and Mr Chandra pointed out that if the case drags on, it could cost as much as Rs 1.5 crore.
Zee has a joint venture with MGM and this airs the Zee MGM channel. MGM was recently acquired worldwide by Sony. According to Mr Chandra, this will not make a difference to the television channel. "We have ceased our arrangement with MGM three months ago," he said.