India news January 23, 2012

Nimbus asked to deposit Rs 305 crores with court

The Bombay High Court has given Nimbus Communications four weeks to deposit Rs 305 crores (approx. US$61 million) with the court as security for the amount the BCCI claims it is owed by the company. The order, issued by Justice SJ Vazifdar on January 19, 2012, came after the board had moved the court asking for Nimbus to provide a security for the outstandings.

The BCCI argued that the amount is due to them for the telecast of India's recent home one-day series against England and the West Indies series, and asked that the amount be taken from the advertisement revenue earned through Nimbus' sports channels - Neo Sports and Neo Cricket.

The lawyers for Nimbus and Neo Sports, however, claimed that the terminated contract was between BCCI and Nimbus and did not involve Neo Sports. Therefore Neo was not liable to pay the board anything. Neo, they argued, was an independently-run business and though it was a subsidiary of Nimbus, there were no legitimate grounds to use its revenues to pay off the debts of its parent company.

However, the court disagreed with Nimbus' argument and ruled that "the respondents [Nimbus and Neo] should deposit all monies which they have already received from the advertisers as consideration for broadcast of advertisements on the television channel/s owned and operated by the respondents in relation to the 2011 cricket series." In addition, the court directed Nimbus to petition the advertisers who still owed them money for the same series to deposit that money with the court as well, with the stipulation that the total amount placed with the court was not to exceed Rs 305 crores.

Nimbus and the BCCI are locked in a battle over the television rights for cricket in India. The board terminated the contract between the parties last month, claiming Nimbus had defaulted but were stymied by the courts when it came to encashing bank guarantees worth Rs 1600 crores (approx. $320 million). ESPNcricinfo understands that the dispute over the contract is now under arbitration.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo