BCCI Rights: Rivals Split On Zee Yorker

New Delhi | Updated: Aug 27 2004, 05:30am hrs
Telecast rights for the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) are likely to be decided on September 5 at a meeting in Kolkata, sources close to the development said. While Zee (top bidder) and ESPN-STAR Sports (second highest bidder) are engaged in claims and counter-claims, other broadcasters are watching the multi-crore contest from the fence.

Most broadcasters contacted by FE spoke off-the-record on who should get the four-year telecast rights: Zee or ESPN. Many channel officials pointed at Zees lack of experience in sports as a possible hurdle.

But they agreed that a bidders credentials should have been vetted before the bids were accepted. A post-mortem at this stage is surprising, an official with a private channel commented.

Ten Sports head of programming Peter Hutton, however, was on record. I dont know which way its going to go...it would be unlikely for Zee to be disqualified on the production issue. Mr Hutton reminded that for the past 10 years, broadcasters both public broadcaster and private channels have produced cricket content without using their own production team.

DD Yet To Sign Rates Deal With Zee

While Prasar Bharati has signed a rates deal with the ESPN-STAR Sports for the four-year BCCI telecast rights, Zee has only given a commitment on terrestrial rights to the public broadcaster so far, according to sources.
According to the memorandum of understanding, ESPN-STAR Sports will pay Rs 1.25 crore as placement fee to Prasar Bharati
per one day international in the first year. In the three subsequent years it will pay Rs 1.5 crore, Rs 1.75 crore and Rs 2 crore to Prasar Bharati. In addition, Prasar Bharati will keep 20 per cent of the advertising revenue earned through beaming these matches on Doordarshan. The remaining 80 per cent will go to ESPN.

Its rare for more than just a few inhouse people to be on the staff, he said referring to specialised sport channels. Both equipment and crew are normally outsourced to either freelancers or to production companies.

A source in Prasar Bharati argued that Zee doesnt have a sport channel and lacks experience in doing sport programmes, among other issues. But BCCI may still grant the rights to Zee because it emerged the highest bidder at $260 million. Zees arch-rivals ESPN-Star Sports have bid $230 million.

When contacted, Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma refused to make a comment on the issue. Business head of Sony AXN N P Singh was also not available for comment.

ESPN Software India managing director RC Venkateish had earlier said, Under the terms for the bid, the ESPN-STAR Sports bid was the highest qualifying bid. According to Mr Venkateish, although Zee had offered a larger bid, they clearly did not qualify as they have had no experience of broadcasting or producing live international cricket event . But Zee had countered, saying it had international experience in telecasting cricket.