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5-judge bench to hear Zee petition on Tuesday; ESPN-STAR Sports makes new offer to BCCI

28-September-2004
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5-judge bench to hear Zee petition on Tuesday; ESPN-STAR Sports makes new offer to BCCI

The Supreme Court has adjourned the hearing in the Zee Telefilm's petition in the cricket telecast rights case to Tuesday. Also, the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Santosh Hegde has referred the case to a five-judge bench. The first issue that the court will take up on Tuesday is whether Zee's petition is maintainable or not.

Meanwhile, in a press statement issued on Monday, ESPN STAR Sports has offered a solution to BCCI for ending the impasse and to facilitate the coverage of the India-Australia series. In a letter, which had been received by BCCI early Monday morning, Rik Dovey, Managing Director, ESPN STAR Sports, Asia, has proposed to the Cricket Board that ESPN STAR Sports is willing to produce and telecast the India-Australia series. ESPN STAR Sports has further proposed that it would pass the net advertising revenues earned on ESPN and STAR Sports, as well its net share of the DD revenue, net of costs, to BCCI.

The letter to BCCI president Jagmohan Dalmiya claimed that it was “our contention before the Bombay High Court that Zee was hopelessly ineligible in terms of your tender, in that, as admitted by Zee’s counsel, Zee had not done a single day’s production of a clean feed for an international cricketing event…As you are aware, we have our own production unit and in-house production capability and leading commentators. As you are aware Zee has neither in place.”

When contacted regarding ESPN-STAR Sports’ offer, a Zee spokesman, on condition of anonymity, said, “The offer is not relevant any more in view of the petition in the Supreme Court. Besides, we have always maintained that we are fully ready to provide coverage and have adequate infrastructure in place.”

In its petition, Zee has contended that it is the rightful owner of the cricket rights as it has deposited $ 20 million with the Cricket Board. It has also contended that BCCI’s decision to cancel the tender process, in which Zee emerged as the highest bidder with a quote of $ 308 million, is unjust.

The respondents in the case include the Government of India, ESPN-Star Sports, BCCI and PriceWaterhouse Cooper (PwC), the audit firm that vetted the bids.

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