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ESPN, Zee told to submit fresh bids

September 09, 2004 19:25 IST

In a new twist to the cricket telecast rights issue, the Bombay high court asked ESPN-Star Sports and Zee TV to make fresh bids, saying the highest bidder would be granted the rights to broadcast national and international cricket matches played in India between October 2004 and September 2008.

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Hearing a petition filed by ESPN-Star Sports on Thursday, challenging the Board of Control for Cricket in India's decision to grant the rights to Zee TV for US $308 million, Chief Justice D S Bhandari and Justice D Y Chandrachud said they would welcome fresh bids and grant the telecast rights to the highest bidder.

After hearing the parties, the judges told Zee TV network to inform the BCCI and ESPN-Star Sports on September 14 about their decision to the court's suggestion of offering fresh bids.

The judges also ruled that if Zee decides to agree to the court's suggestion, it should submit a fresh bid and the court would sit on September 15 to open the bids and declare the highest bidder.

But if Zee TV network does not agree to the court's suggestion of submitting fresh bids, the bench would hear arguments of both the parties on September 16.

The bench suggested submission of fresh bids after both the parties showed willingness to do so following BCCI's contention that Zee as well as ESPN are equally eligible to bag the telecast rights.

Earlier during the day, Zee TV sought time for few hours to respond to the court's suggestion.

After the lunch recess, Zee TV told the court that it would consult its board.

The high court had earlier asked the BCCI to produce its file on awarding of telecast rights to Zee Network for the period October 2004 to September 2008.

ESPN-Star TV Network had challenged the BCCI's decision to award rights to Zee for which a tender was floated earlier.

The tender pertained to telecast rights of national and international cricket matches played in the country during the four-year period.

The petition contended that Zee was not eligible as it does not satisfy tender conditions of eligibility.

It said Zee did not possess the required two years' experience of telecasting cricket matches of international level and also claimed that awarding tender rights to Zee was in violation of the principles of natural justice.

The petition said that ESPN-Star was not given an opportunity to improve its bid after the BCCI had negotiated the price with Zee.

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