BCCI will award rights on fulfillment of certain criteria September 5, 2004

Zee Network set to bag Indian television rights



Jagmohan Dalmiya: Was the centre of attention in Chennai © AFP

Zee Network are set to get the Indian television rights for the next four years. Jagmohan Dalmiya, the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, announced in Chennai that the BCCI intended to award the contract to Zee subject to certain conditions. If Zee Network met the conditions laid out by the marketing committee of the board, ESPN-Star Sports, would lose out.

"The president [Dalmiya] has announced that the BCCI intend to award the contract to Zee subject to them fulfilling certain criteria," Professor Ratnakar Shetty, Joint Secretary of the board, told Wisden Cricinfo from Chennai. "They have to pay the board US$20million by Wednesay, September 8 and also furnish a bank gurantee for a further US$75million by September 15. The president has said the BCCI intended to award the rights to Zee Network if they can fulfil these, and certain other criteria."

The marketing committee of the BCCI was in negotiations with senior officials of both television companies in Chennai, and in the end decided to go with Zee, who had bid US$260million for the rights. Zee had also pledged a further US$20million towards coverage of domestic matches. ESPN-Star Sports, the other contender, had bid US$230million.

It is also learnt that Zee, who upped their bid to US$308million in the last round of negotiations, are set to launch their own sports channel on October 2. Rediff quoted a Zee official who said: "We will invest Rs100 to 150 crores [US$22million approx] for the sports channel to be launched on October 2 and the cricket matches will be shown on it." The uplinking will be done from Delhi and the official also added that the launch will coincide with the 12th anniversary of the group.

One of the points of contention was that Zee Networks did not have in-house production facilities. Industry sources indicate that TEN Sports, who are an existing player in the cricket broadcasting business, are frontrunners to produce the live cricket programming for Zee Networks.

When the tender opened for bids in the middle of August, Zee emerged as a surprise front-runner in the tussle to win telecast rights. Zee tabled a bid worth approximately US$262million, about $14million more than the ESPN-Star Sports offer. Prasar Bharati, the national broadcaster, were willing to cough up $153million. Sony Entertainment Television ($148million) and the Dubai-based Ten Sports ($141million) were the rank outsiders.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Wisden Cricinfo.

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