Zee to telecast Sri Lanka test matches

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Our Bureau

New Delhi, Dec. 1

THE winds of change in cricketing affairs are already evident within two days of Mr Sharad Pawar and his team taking charge of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

In a reversal of the earlier stand under Mr Jagmohan Dalmiya, the board has awarded the satellite telecast rights for the forthcoming India-Sri Lanka test matches to Zee Sports. Prasar Bharati will only air the matches on its terrestrial channel, DD National.

Earlier, the BCCI had argued that Zee Telefilms did not fulfil the technical requirements and hence was not eligible to participate in financial bidding of the four-year cricket rights. It had then said that the network did not have the requisite past experience in cricket broadcasting.

This is also perhaps the first time since the cricket rights controversy broke out that the satellite and terrestrial rights have been given to two different broadcasters.

Previously, DD was allowed to show them on both DD National and its satellite channel, DD Sports.

Broadcasting industry sources said that while private broadcasters Ten Sports and Sony Entertainment stayed away from the open bidding process today citing inadequate preparation time, ESPN-Star Sports, Zee Sports and Nimbus Sport participated.

Zee Telefilms had offered to pay $4.24 million (Rs 19.5 crore), ESPN bid $4.1 million whereas the Nimbus' bid was rejected due to technical reasons, said sources.

Earlier in Mr Dalmiya's regime, DD had entered into an 80:20 sharing with the board retaining the larger share.

There was no satellite deal attached.

Now DD would be allowed to market its own rights with BCCI receiving 75 per cent of the revenues. Transworld International (TWI) will produce these matches.

Sources further added that the TWI has also agreed to charge $977,000 compared to $1.052 million.

Also, revenue share for the international rights with Nimbus has been revised to 85:15 against the earlier 80:20 ratio in favour of the Board.

In a statement, Mr Himanshu Mody, Business Head, Zee Sports said, "We are delighted to acquire the cable and satellite rights for the three test match series between India and Sri Lanka. In an open and transparent meeting with the BCCI, in which all bidders were present, we managed to secure the rights for the series. Acquiring the rights is an assertion of our commitment to provide exciting cricket to viewers in India."

Prasar Bharati's CEO, Mr K.S. Sarma, maintained that the broadcaster is happy "as long as it gets the terrestrial rights, in conformity with the downlinking norms" that makes it mandatory for a private broadcaster to share signals with the public broadcaster.Earlier in the day, the Delhi High Court asked the cricket board to invite bids for awarding the telecast rights of the India-Sri Lanka Test series and take a decision by today itself.

Meanwhile, the Zee Telefilms scrip rose by 6.80 per cent to close at Rs 164.95 on the National Stock Exchange.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 2, 2005)
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