BCCI to discuss telecast rights on Thursday

Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Kolkata:In the backdrop of the intense legal battle between ESPN-Star Sports and Zee Telefilms Limited over the cricket telecast rights for the next four years, the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) working committee meets in Kolkata on Thursday to find ways of ensuring television coverage for the forthcoming international fixtures in India.

The emergent One-day session of the Board's top policy making body would take stock of the latest situation arising out of the dispute and suggest the course of action to be followed in view of the Australian team's scheduled visit to India from later this month.

The world champions are slated to play the first Test in Bangalore from October 6, and the Board now faces the tough task of ensuring television footage for the series in conformity with International Cricket Council (ICC).

The Aussies play a four-Test series, and would be followed by the South Africans for a two-Test fixture.

As per ICC regulations, the organising Board has to ensure video footage for the third umpire to enable him take decisions, which are within his purview.

''We don't know when this dispute will be resolved. We cannot sit idle till the legal wrangle ends. We have to ensure television coverage,'' said a Board source.

With its contract with Prasar Bharti for telecast of international cricket matches in India expiring at the end of this month, the BCCI had floated a tender for granting the telecast rights for the next four years - October 2004 to September 2008 - and decided to award the rights to Zee for an astronomical sum of $308 million.

However, ESPN-Star moved the Mumbai High Court challenging the BCCI's decision alleging the Board had "changed the entire process of bidding in violation of rules set by BCCI themselves''.

After the Board contended that both the parties were equally eligible to bag the rights, the court asked the two channels to submit fresh bids on the basis of which it would award the rights to the highest bidder.

ESPN-Star readily agreed to the proposal, but Zee decided against re-bidding, and the matter is scheduled to come up for argument before a division bench of the court on Thursday.

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