The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cricket telecast bids under legal scanner

Sydney, Oct.16: Two of the four bidders for the telecast rights to be awarded by the Board of Control for Cricket in India ' Doordarshan and ESPN ' appear to have met almost all the technical requirements of the tender.

According to The Telegraph’s sources in Mumbai, where the board’s marketing committee met this afternoon, “quite a few clarifications” are needed where the other bidders ' Zee and Sony ' are concerned.

The committee, therefore, decided to take the opinion of legal eagle Soli Sorabjee and board counsel Usha Nath Banerjee on all the bids before a select group (president Ranbir Singh Mahendra, Jagmohan Dalmiya and Inderjit Singh Bindra) meets once again.

The rights are to be for four years.

Owing to a case in Delhi High Court filed by Zee (a fallout of last year’s fracas), the committee only opened the bids’ technical part and the financial component won’t be touched till the court gives its ruling.

The next hearing is on October 19 and the first international engagement at home, a One-Day International versus Sri Lanka, is on October 25. It’s a race against time.

“Sorabjee and Banerjee will give their opinion on the eligibility of the bidders.... After all, Zee doesn’t have the experience of being a direct licence holder (cricket events) for the past three years... Sony has, for example, been telecasting ICC events but that deal is through Global Cricket Corporation,” a source pointed out.

He added: “Of course, a few things also need to be clarified on the bids made by Doordarshan and ESPN.... Basically, everything has to be such that it withstands any scrutiny.”

It couldn’t be confirmed, but it seems Zee’s bid is somewhat “conditional”.

The board has emphasised that Sharad Pawar’s resignation from the committee didn’t have anything to do with politics. The Union minister, one learns, felt it would be inappropriate to be involved in a major financial decision by a non-government body.

Pawar heads the Mumbai Cricket Association and was challenging Mahendra for the board’s top post when the AGM got adjourned last month. It has to be reconvened by November 30.

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