India~~s cricket board ponders own TV channel

Published: Thursday, April 14, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Mumbai:India's cricket board is planning to launch its own 24-hour television channel that promises revenues of 3.65 billion dollars for its first five years and an end to all legal wrangles over telecast rights.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is currently embroiled in a court case filed by Zee Telefilms which was denied the rights last year despite being the highest bidder of 308 million dollars for the next five years.

The BCCI cancelled Zee's rights when the rival Disney-Murdoch owned ESPN-Star Sports challenged Zee's suitability to telecast matches. Public broadcaster Doordarshan was given the rights on a series-to-series basis.

A study conducted by two state units - the Rajasthan Cricket Association and the Punjab Cricket Association - said the channel, if floated by the BCCI, can boost the game's infrastructure in the cricket-crazy nation of over one billion people.

The introduction of a 24-hour pay channel exclusively dedicated to cricket will see one single channel airing at least 29 Tests and 43 one-day internationals every year, the study says.

"The revenues of the channel would be about 12 times more than what BCCI hopes to generate with its existing plans," Rajasthan Cricket Association chief Lalit Modi said in a statement.

"Our study presents the proposed channel as the tool the BCCI can weild to generate huge revenues to create the much needed infrastructure in a self-sustainable manner."

The study suggests negotiating for broadcast rights for the Indian market for the country's matches in other countries.

"As our strength in the game increases, supplemented by powerful infrastructure and increased resources, it will in turn consolidate the BCCI's position among International Cricket Council members," the study said.

"The channel will also increase impetus to Indian cricket as the revenues are ploughed back in activities of BCCI that upgrades cricket infrastructure."

The idea of setting up a channel by the BCCI was mooted after a series of litigations emerged over cricket telecast rights since last September.

"Currently in India the primary revenue for every sports channel are from cricket," Modi said.

"Over the years we have seen a number of court cases regarding the award of TV rights by BCCI, but once the board starts its own channel then there is no issue of bagging the rights as we own the rights."

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