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Zee says no to fresh bid

September 14, 2004 21:44 IST

Zee Television Network informed the Board of Control for Cricket in India and ESPN-Star Sports that it is not prepared to accept the Bombay high court's suggestion of submitting fresh bids with regard to telecast of cricket matches to be played in the country over the next four years.

An affidavit to that effect was filed by Zee TV Network in the high court on Tuesday and copies of it were served on the BCCI and ESPN-Star Sports, a top official of Zee TV Network said.

"The Board of directors of Zee has decided not to go for fresh bidding and affidavits to that effect have been given to the parties," he said.

The central government, in its affidavit filed in the high court, refused to be drawn into the controversy, saying the BCCI is an autonomous body and hence the award of telecast rights is solely within its jurisdiction and the government had no role to play.

The BCCI also filed an affidavit, but its joint-secretary Ratnakar Shetty, who was present in the court, declined to give details.

Both the affidavits were filed in response to the ESPN-Star Sports' petition challenging the BCCI's decision to award the telecast rights of national and international cricket matches from October 2004 to September 2008 to Zee Television Network.

S K Sharma, undersecretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, said in an affidavit that promotion of sports, which figures in the "state list" of the Constitution, is primarily the responsibility of the state governments and national sports federations.

He said the central government only supplemented the efforts of the state governments and national sports federations by providing financial assistance. Organisations like the BCCI are autonomous in their functioning and hence the award of telecast rights is solely within the jurisdiction of BCCI, the affidavit said.

Opposing ESPN's contention, the government affidavit said there is no question of withdrawal of recognition to the BCCI as it has not come across any breach of conditions by the sports federation.

Hearing the plea of BCCI that both Zee TV Network and ESPN-Star Sports are equally eligible to bag telecast rights of cricket matches, the Bombay high court had earlier asked the two channels to submit fresh bids on the basis of which it would award rights to the highest bidder.

Chief Justice D S Bhandari and Justice D Y Chandrachud offered the suggestion after the BCCI pleaded that both Zee and ESPN could go in for a fresh bid with mutual consent of all concerned parties.

The court had asked Zee network to communicate its decision to the BCCI and ESPN-Star Sports on September 14. If Zee Network agreed to go for fresh bids then it would be placed before the court on September 15 and a decision will be taken regarding award of telecast rights. But if Zee decides against fresh bids then further arguments will take place on September 16, the judges had ruled.

ESPN-Star Sports contended that Zee Network is not eligible to hold the telecast rights as it does not possess the required two years of experience in producing, broadcasting and telecasting live cricket matches as required by the tender floated by the BCCI.

The BCCI, however, said that they had held both the broadcasters as equally eligible and suggested that both the parties be allowed to make fresh bids.

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