TV rights to remain with TEN Sports channel

Published: Friday, January 30, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Islamabad:Ahead of India's historic tour to Pakistan in March, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) called for new bids for the sponsorship of the series after ending a contract with PepsiCo.

The Board also cleared the controversy over television rights and said the rights will remain with Dubai based TEN Sports channel.

Announcing the new deal reached with Pepsi, PCB chairman Shahryar M Khan said that the softdrinks major have agreed to forego its stakes over the series sponsorship for 3.75 lakh dollars.

"The television rights issue is absolutely clear cut. We have a contract with Ten Sports for five years and we have decided to do with it after a review as the PCB was not in a position to alter the contract," he said.

The decision has been taken after a special panel consisting of a marketing specialist and a prominent lawyer reviewed the contract with Ten Sports, owned by Dubai based cricket promoter Bhakthiyar Khan, and opined that the contract cannot be violated.

Both the TV rights and sponsorship deal were signed last year when Gen (retd) Tauqir Zia headed the PCB. Shaharyar, a former foreign secretary of Pakistan who was manager of the Pakistan cricket team that toured India in 1998, was appointed as new chairman by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf a few months ago.

On the sponsorship issue, Khan said several top Indian companies along with companies from Singapore, Dubai and England have approached the Board.

Considering the stakes, the PCB managed to settle the claims of Pepsi by paying 3.75 lakh dollars. The money would be spent by Pepsi for the development of cricket in Pakistan, a PCB press release later said.

In view of the new deal with Pepsi the tenders for the sponsorship of the Indian tour were called afresh by the PCB on January 22 and it would be opened in public on February 7. The companies have time till February 1 to file their tenders.

Khan said so far over 23 companies including several top Indian companies have shown interest. "Let us see who grabs it. We will know it on February 7."

He said several television companies from India and other parts of the world approached the PCB for exclusive TV rights offering double the money agreed by Ten Sports.

"But it was not possible," he said. The other reason that prompted PCB to go with the contract was that only Ten Sports came forward last year when several cricket nations, including India, Australia and West Indies refused to tour Pakistan and some matches were even held in third country venues.

"The companies that were offering hefty sums now for the Indian tour came nowhere near PCB last year. As far as TV rights are concerned we have contract with Ten Sports and we will abide by that contract. That is the end of the story."

He said the PCB wanted to accommodate Indian TV companies like Doordarshan but could not do so in view of contractual obligations. "If it wants, Doordarshan could work out a deal with Ten Sports," he said.

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