BCCI awaits HC order to declare telecast winner

Published: Thursday, September 1, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:The BCCI today assured the Delhi High Court that it would not decide on bids for grant of cricket telecast and broadcast rights in India for the next four years till September 8, when the hearing on Zee Telefilm's petition challenging the eligibility conditions would resume.

The assurance was given to a Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice B A Khan and Justice M B Lokur on behalf of BCCI by senior counsel Aryam Sundaram, who said the marketing committee of the cricket body was yet to meet.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatagi, representing Zee, had sought an interim order to restrain the BCCI from deciding the bids till the next date as it would prejudice the interest of the petitioner which has demanded quashing of BCCI's 'invitation to tender' (ITT) for cricket telecast rights in India on the ground that the eligibility conditions were framed to oust Indian bidders.

In fact, the court had made it to BCCI that, either it should undertake not to decide the bids till the next date or an order would be passed to restrain it from doing so as in the event of the cricket body deciding the bids, the writ petition would become in fructuous. However, it did not pass any formal order.

Rohatagi alleged that the present set of eligibility criteria for ITT was framed by BCCI in such a manner so as to try to "exclude" the petitioner and/or other Indian television channels and favour ESPN Star Sports.

Sundaram said BCCI wanted only those having three-year experience as direct first original licensee (and not as an agent) from any event owner of telecasting live international cricket matches in each of the three years, 2002, 2003 and 2004 to bid for the telecast rights.

In its affidavit filed through counsel Kailash Gambhir, the Centre told the court that it had laid down the policy guidelines for setting up of teleports and use of Digital Satellite News Gathering equipment and Settelite News Gathering equipment (DSNGs and SNGs).

As per the guidelines, any Indian company can apply for uplinking permission for both 'non-news and current affairs' and 'news and current affairs' channels.

A foreign channel can also approach the Union of India to seek permission for using SNG/DSNG for any live coverage, footage collection and transmission.

In its petition filed through counsel Pratibha M Singh, Zee Telefilms has sought a direction to the Centre not to grant permission to BCCI or any of its licencees for uplinking of TV signals of cricket matches to be played in India during October 2005 and September 2009.

Earlier, Zee counsel had said the conditions were tailor- made by BCCI to suit ESPN Star Sports to continue and perpetuate its monopoly and render ZEE Telefilms and any other private licensed Indian broadcasters ineligible.

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