The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Stalled in cricket, Zee scores in soccer

Calcutta, Sept. 8: In the season of Andrew Flintoff’s triumph over David Beckham, bagging soccer telecast rights can only be a poor second to the cricket beam battle. And that is what Zee Telefilms might have to settle for at the moment.

Zee is close to clinching football telecast rights in India, but its comeback bid for cricket rights has been slowed down with the Delhi High Court adjourning the case till September 13.

“We have offered the soccer telecast rights to Zee for a period of five years and it could be extended for another five years,” Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, president of All India Football Federation, said in Delhi today.

“The final discussions are on with AIFF and we hope to wrap up the process at a meeting next week,” Himangshu Mody, executive vice-president of Zee Sports, told The Telegraph.

Though Mody refused to reveal the amount Zee has offered for the football rights, industry sources pegged it at Rs 274 crore.

AIFF had initially invited bids for broadcasting top-level football played in India for the next 10 years. Besides Zee 'which had then offered around Rs 360 crore ' broadcasters ESPN-STAR Sports and NDTV, and production companies Nimbus and Leisure Sports Management had responded to it.

“We shortlisted the offer from Zee Sports, Nimbus and NDTV. During negotiations, Nimbus withdrew from the race. The evaluation committee has found a definite edge in favour of Zee Sports compared with NDTV and therefore concluded to send the offer,” Das Munshi added.

On the cricket telecast front, after being informed by Zee today that it would not “stall proceedings”, Delhi High Court asked the Board of Control for Cricket in India whether it would open the tenders by September 13.

The cricket board’s counsel, U.N. Bannerjee, raised the issue of Delhi High Court’s jurisdiction, as the board is headquartered in Mumbai.

The division bench of acting Chief Justice B.A. Khan and Justice M.B. Lokur said the issue would be heard later and only if the board stated that it would open the bid.

Zee had filed a petition in the high court seeking quashing of the tender invitation by the board for telecast rights to cricket played in India till 2009.

It had alleged the conditions in the document were “tailor-made” for ESPN-STAR Sports and meant to keep out Indian broadcasters.

According to the cricket board’s “invitation to tender”, bidders were required to submit the tender in two parts.

Part A would assess the technical eligibility of the company while Part B would evaluate its financial position.

The board had announced that its marketing committee would first look at Part A and would open the financial bids of only those who satisfied the technical criterion.

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