HC completes hearing on cricket telecast

Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Kochi:Kerala high court today completed hearing and reserved for orders the case relating to the telecast of One-day cricket matches between India and Bangladesh, commencing at Chittagong from December 23.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice B Subashan Reddy and Justice Kurian Joseph, after hearing the submissions by counsel for ESPN, Doordarshan and the petitioners, said the orders would be either pronounced this evening or tomorrow.

Continuing his submissions, Supreme Court senior advocate Rakesh Munchal, appearing for ESPN, said there was no fundamental right guaranteed to a citizen to watch cricket on Doordarshan. They have a right to access of information and ESPN had not foreclosed that right as the cricket matches were available through any cable operator in the country.

ESPN had purchased the telecasting rights of all cricket matches to be played in Bangladesh from 2003 to 2008 by paying approximately Rs 50 crore, it was submitted.

Proceedings in the case had been initiated on a petition filed by S Ramesh, former Kerala Ranji captain and another petitioner seeking a direction to Doordarshan to telecast the cricket series between India and Bangladesh.

Justice Reddy asked the Doordarshan counsel, N N Sugunapalan as to why Doordarshan had not bid for the telecast rights of the cricket matches. ESPN cannot be found fault with for the rights it had acquired by paying Rs 50 crore, he said.

"Government has got a duty to tell the court why it failed in its duty. Why did not Doordarshan even try to bid for the telecast rights," the court asked.

The counsel submitted that Doordarshan had not bid for the telecast rights as it thought it would not be financially viable.

He reiterated that if ESPN agrees to share the revenue in the ratio of 80:20, Doordarshan was prepared to telecast the One-dayers.

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