Zee raises TV rights bid to thirteen billion

Published: Thursday, September 2, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Sensing competition for telecast rights for Indian cricket, Subhash Chandra's Zee group has upped its offer by Rs 94.5 crore to about Rs 1300 crore to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Zee had made an original bid of 260 million dollars for securing telecast rights for four years but in the face of competition from ESPN-Star, it has offered to make the extra provision of Rs 94.5 crore. The specialised sports channel ESPN-Star is understood to have made a bid of 230 million dollars.

Although Zee's bid is understood to be the highest, BCCI kept the issue open for entertaining better offers and the matter would be discussed on Saturday at a meeting in Chennai.

When contacted, Ashish Kaul, vice president (corporate brand development), ESSEL Group, said, "We have made the extra provision for the development of domestic cricket."

ZEE Telefilms owns and operates the largest number of television channels in India, totalling 19 across a spectrum of six languages with the ZEE and Alpha brands, he said adding that "ZEE is planning to launch a sports channel next year."

Asked about the bid amount at 260 million dollar and whether it was a rational bid, Kaul said "ZEE has prepared a detailed plan for partnering BCCI and supporting in building BCCI brand as the emotional quotient of Indian cricket.

"It is BCCI's vision that ZEE proposes to build and nurture in due course," he added.

On the issue of lack of experience in telecasting cricket, Kaul said "cricket is a special telecast for which you require special equipment and you will have to outsource them. This is true not only for us but everybody".

Kaul said Zee intends to raise the domestic matches television coverage to a record level. It will produce live coverage of over 52 days each year of domestic cricket, possibly extending to as many as 72 days each year.

Asked about the business prospects from the deal, Kaul pointed out that over next two and half years there were virtually no overseas tours resulting in practically very low revenue.

He claimed that ZEE had enough experience of telecasting cricket matches in its overseas channels.

Asked about Zee TV's earlier venture especially with regard to Maharashtra Lottery, Karnataka Lottery and bidding for FM radio licenses, he refused to comment.

The BCCI's bids committee is expected to take a final decision at the meeting on Saturday.

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