Rights Deal With Wrong Man: DD, I&B Play Safe

New Delhi: | Updated: Jan 29 2004, 05:30am hrs
State broadcaster Prasar Bharati is lying low, after its negotiations on forthcoming India-Pakistan cricket rights took a bad turn. Sources close to the development said, Prasar Bharati would now have nothing to do with Mr Zaheed Bashir, who came posing as the marketing director of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), negotiated on India-Pakistan cricket rights with various parties, and even gave interviews to private TV channels in India. Mr Bashir, according to the PCB, was suspended recently.

Mr Bashir, who came to Delhi late last week, neither carried an authorisation letter from PCB, nor an official card, sources said. But, Mr Sarma met him, twice, in an effort to strike a deal for the cricket rights. The Prasar Bharati CEO had told eFE on Tuesday that a clarity on the rights issue is expected on February 11, as bids are likely to be re-opened.

It is being speculated in media circles that if bids are re-opened, Sony may get a chance to claim telecast rights of the India-Pakistan cricket series. Currently, Dubai-based TEN Sports holds the rights. It has been reported that Sony had bid higher than TEN Sports.

Prasar Bharati would also bid for the series, if theres re-bidding, according to Mr Sarma.

But, government officials said Prasar Bharati would attempt to do a deal for sub-rights and terrestrial rights for deferred transmission.

However, when a senior official of the information and broadcasting ministry was contacted for his reaction on how Prasar Bharati was negotiating with a suspended official, he said, negotiations on India-Pakistan cricket series is an internal matter of Prasar Bharati. He added: The ministry does not interfere with Prasar Bharatis workings on content. Even if Mr Sarma had earlier said that Prasar Bharati had made a request to the information and broadcasting ministry to help it beam the India-Pakistan series, ministry officials maintained that they havent received any such request.