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Two men and a tussle
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | March 15, 2004 17:33 IST
The two men present in the courtroom had huge amounts of money at stake. But that was the only thing common to them.
Otherwise they could not have been more different.
When the Supreme Court began hearing the telecast tussle between Ten Sports and Doordarshan on Monday morning, in the packed court of the Chief Justice of India V N Khare, the two men were also the cynosure of most eyes.
The Ten Sports chief executive officer Chris McDonald, dapper in blue trousers and a matching shirt, anxiously hung on to every to word during the proceedings which saw a heated debate between Ten Sports' lawyer Kapil Sibal and the counsel for Prasar Bharati Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. His general demeanour emitted signals of high nervous anxiety.
The Prasar Bharati chief executive K S Sarma, on the other hand looked as cool as a cucumber. His calm and collected face betrayed no anxiety all through the proceedings.
Soon after the hearing was over and the Apex Court directed Prasar Bharati to deposit Rs 10 crore (Rs 100 million) as guarantee money with the Supreme Court Registrar for the telecast of the second one-day international match between Pakistan and India, Sarma walked out with a big beaming smile, despite the fact that Chief Justice V N Khare at one point reprimanded Doordarshan.
"We are depositing the money," he told rediff.com.
But McDonald seemed visibly upset. "No comments. We are not saying anything," Chris told this correspondent crisply and retreated into the background, avoiding the string of television reporters present.
He instructed his deputy R K Singh not to say a word to the media persons, even as the duo waited for their Kapil Sibal to emerge from the courtroom.
Tension was writ large on McDonald's face and he looked edgy as he attended to a series of phone calls from his cellphones. While attending the calls he made sure that everyone, especially the press, was out of earshot.
An advocate told rediff.com, that McDonald seemed to be expecting a favourable ruling from the court, particularly after its gesture of providing the telecast feed free-of-cost to Doordarshan during the Karachi one-day international on Saturday. But that did not happen.
The Supreme Court will now take up the case on Wednesday for a final ruling.
Sarma's tranquillity and apparent delight seemed understandable as the court ruling was more in his favour.
For McDonald, on the other hand, it is a matter of $25 million that Ten Sports wants from Doordarshan to share its exclusive signals for the India-Pakistan cricket series for a duration of only a month.