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BCCI official faces Zee suit

New Delhi, April 6: Zee today took home a nearly Rs 1,000-crore contract from the cricket board and prepared to go to court with a Rs 50-crore defamation suit against one of its office-bearers.

“We are going to file a defamation suit against Lalit Modi (BCCI vice-president) for Rs 50 crore for using filthy and abusive language against our Zee Sports CEO (Himanshu) Modi,” Zee spokesperson Ashish Kaul said.

The note of acrimony appeared after the sweet success of Zee Telefims bagging the global media rights for India matches on neutral territory over the next five years.

Zee had made the winning bid of over $219 million.

The broadcast rights apply to matches played in places like Sharjah and Abu Dhabi ' non-Test-playing countries ' where some 25 games, mostly between India and Pakistan, will be played over the next five years. Abu Dhabi hosts two one-day internationals on April 18 and 19.

For Zee, the deal means advertisement revenue from exclusive broadcasts ' over television, radio and Internet ' of matches played overseas by India till March 31, 2011.

Already awash with money, the Board of Control for Cricket in India becomes even richer with the Zee deal. Its assured revenue for the coming four years has crossed the $1-billion-mark.

If the defamation rap sticks, the board could be lighter by Rs 50 crore, but Lalit Modi did not appear to be so concerned as not to take a crack at humour.

“I have heard of sour losers and never of sour winners. I only protested against leak of information to the media and did not use any abusive language against a Zee official,” he told PTI.

The alleged incident occurred yesterday when Himanshu Modi protested against a supposed violation of rules by a competitor, Sahara.

“Sahara is being shown undue leniency, though they have violated norms,” a senior official representing a rival bidder had then said.

Lalit Modi had dismissed the charges.

Sahara lost the race with a bid of $176 million with Nimbus coming second at $200 million.

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