The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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New rules for money game
- Zee back in race, board creates array of products for sale

New Delhi, Dec. 8: The rules of the telecast game have changed and every inch of the boys will be marketed more aggressively to make money.

The cricket board has decided to cancel existing tenders and invite fresh bids to telecast matches to be played in India in the next four years.

The new establishment under Sharad Pawar has omitted two crucial clauses introduced by the ousted Jagmohan Dalmiya regime that had virtually shut the Zee network out of the telecast race.

The BCCI has removed a condition that stipulated a minimum three-year experience in cricket broadcasting. Besides, the rights will be awarded to the highest bidder with BCCI having no discretionary power as was thecase under Dalmiya.

Last year, Zee had initially offered the highest amount ' Rs 1,300 crore ' for the four-year rights.

But the board had allowed the others to re-bid on technical grounds, triggering one of the most acrimonious battles in Indian cricket.

That tender was eventually cancelled and when the board resumed the process again, Zee was disqualified first, touching off another round of legal battle that is now pending in court. But Zee bounced back into the picture two days after Pawar was elected the board president with the network being given rights to the three Sri Lanka Tests.

The principal telecast rights contender, ESPN STAR Sports, refused comment. A senior ESPN official said the company has not received anything in writing from the board.

The new dispensation has also promised to market the team aggressively. Besides the team sponsor, up for grabs will be slots for official airline, official hotel, official media partner and sponsors for the ground and the man of the match.

The BCCI has decided to have a separate team sponsor for ICC events like the World Cup and the Champions Trophy to avoid conflict of interest with official sponsors.

“There would be a single sponsor for all matches -- one-dayers and Tests -- to be played at home and away. But to maximise value, we will have separate team sponsors for Champions Trophy and the World Cup to avoid conflict of interest with the companies which are the existing official partners of ICC,” board vice-president and marketing committee member Lalit Modi said after a meeting of the panel.

The team sponsor will get brand space on the chest and leading arm of the player’s shirt. The team kit sponsor will be offered the non-leading arm of the player’s outfit.

“The BCCI will now be adding value to its portfolio of marketable properties by adding an official kit supplier to the Indian team,” Modi said.

Bids will also be invited for team apparel licence and, in line with ICC rules, the race will be open to all apparel manufacturers-cum-retailers.

Ground sponsorship will allow a company to place its logo on the wicket and the insignia to be painted on the field. The board has plans to license merchandise so that branded goods could be sold through retail outlets and department stores.

Tenders for the sponsors will be issued on December 12 and opened a week later.

The tenders for the telecast rights ' a controversial issue that is now locked in a legal wrangle ' will also be floated on December 12 and opened on December 19. “On December 20, the marketing committee will decide on the rights,” Modi said.

The board said it opted for a fresh beginning in order to end the prolonged court battle. “The BCCI would like to get out of all legal battles in courts and so we have decided to approach court to cancel the current tender and put out fresh tenders with fresh terms shortly,” Modi said. The decision on the new bids will be subject to the court ruling.

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