Zee sports Ready to share cricket feed with DD

Published: Thursday, January 5, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Private sports broadcaster Zee Sports today said it was ready to share feed with public broadcaster Prasar Bharati if it got BCCI's cricket telecast rights, a position contrary to other players like ESPN-Star Sports and Ten Sports both of whom have gone to court in protest.

"We are ready to share (the feed) with Prasar Bharati if we emerge successful in the bidding process," Zee Sports Business Head Himanshu Modi told PTI here.

Modi said by making it mandatory to share feed on Doordarshan's terrestrial network, the government was "only legislating something which has been in practice."

"So why the hue and cry now?," he said, pointing out to instances when many of the sports broadcasters had shared their feed with Doordarshan for telecast on terrestrial network.

Interestingly, both ESPN-Star and Ten Sports have gone to court and protested the government legislation that mandates them to share "exclusive" cricket feed with Prasar Bharati. While ESPN-Star knocked the doors of the Delhi High Court on the matter, Ten Sports approached the Bombay High Court.

As part of the revisions on uplinking and downlinking guidelines, the government has made it mandatory for private sports broadcasters/management companies to share with DD the feed of Indian cricket team's matches.

This has been done in national interest, going by the public hysteria the sport creates in the country.

Asked whether the 'must provide' clause will devalue the cricket rights, as claimed by foreign sports broadcasters, Modi said it was not the case. "No, I don't feel that this will happen," he said.

He said that even in the last round of bidding for the cricket rights, which was cancelled by the new management of the BCCI, most of the players had pre-bid arrangements withPrasar Bharati.

The cricket Board, which has not been able to sell cricket rights in two of its previous tenders, is expected to come out with a new tender for long-term cricket shortly.

Asked whether he expected the bid amounts to be higher this time round, Modi refused any direct reply. "See, it depends on a lot of factors like what are the teams that wouldbe coming to India for playing, how many matches will be played and other things.

"Only when these things are clear that one can make any comment on this," he said.

On the financial position of Zee Sports, he said it would break-even in the next 18-24 months. "We expect that by this time we will break-even," Modi said, though refusing to divulge any figures.

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