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SC sets cricket telecast fight date

New Delhi, Sept. 24: The Supreme Court today set the stage for the final battle between Zee Telefilms Ltd and BCCI over telecast rights of cricket matches to be played in the country during the next four years.

It has fixed Monday for hearing a Zee petition against the Board of Control for Cricket in India's decision to cancel the bidding process.

A three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India R.C. Lahoti and Justices G.P. Mathur and P.P. Naolekar fixed the date after briefly hearing Harish Salve, senior counsel for Zee, who contended that the BCCI had violated its contractual obligations by unilaterally annulling the agreement.

Zee sought a directive from the Supreme Court to set aside the BCCI decision.

Salve said the contract had been effected with Zee paying a $20 million advance to the cricket board, adding that a contract 'tendered, awarded and signed' after which 'advance (is) paid' could not be nullified unilaterally. The channel said it was fully equipped to cover the India-Australia series that starts on October 6.

The petition contended there was 'prior collusion' between the BCCI and ESPN-STAR Sports.

The petition said BCCI should not and could not award the contract to any other channel since it had reached 'finality' with Zee once the latter had paid an advance.

It added that the cricket board should not award any 'interim contract' to any other channel till the petition before the Supreme Court is disposed.

The board had earlier said it can make arrangements on its own for the telecast of the India-Australia series.

Zee has made the Union of India, the BCCI, its president Jagmohan Dalmiya, the BCCI secretary, ESPN-STAR Sports and consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers respondents in the case.

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