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March 17, 2009
The BCCI today agreed to follow the order of the Bombay High Court not to go ahead with signing the broadcast deal with WSG Mauritius till the court passes its verdict on the injunction order filed by Singapore-based Multi Screen Media (MSM).
After hearing legal counsels from both the BCCI and Sony for two days the judge SJ Kathawalla reserved his judgement till he studied further material, which he asked from both parties.
Sony had leased the IPL's subcontinent broadcast rights last year from WSG (India), who had won an original ten-year bid for US$ 1.02 billion. Sony moved the court after receiving a notice of termination on Saturday from the BCCI, which runs the IPL. The court ruled that the freeze on IPL signing another broadcast deal would stand until the matter is heard.
The broadcast dispute could not have come at a worse time for IPL, which is still in discussion with the Indian government over a clash of dates between the second edition next month and the general elections.
IPL officials were unavailable for a reaction. Rohit Gupta, president of network sales at Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, which holds the IPL contract under the Sony umbrella, said it would be inappropriate to comment right now.
The BCCI cited a breach of contract on Sony's part as reason for the termination, after which the court decided to adjourn the case to Tuesday noon, PTI reported.
The court was also told that the BCCI terminated Sony's contract on Saturday night and signed a new deal with WSG (Mauritius) at 3 am on Sunday.
The IPL's relationship with Sony had turned rocky last month after the IPL lost out on a US$31.16 million deal because of a dispute between Sony and Big TV, a direct-to-home provider. Ties between the two dipped further after the subsequent resignation of Kunal Dasgupta, the then Sony CEO, who was known to be close to Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman.
Sony is also understood to have been keen on renegotiating the financial terms of its contract with the IPL and had concerns about the tournament's revised dates and some of the venues that were being considered.
On Monday, the BCCI lawyer had detailed the Bombay High Court about the fallout of the deal with Big TV, which Sony had opposed as the primary ground for scrapping the deal. The other main reason was the quality of match broadcast by Sony.
"Despite making frequent complaints, Sony failed to respond to the IPL's concerns," Virat Tulzapurkar, the BCCI counsel, said. The complaints included prematurely cutting to breaks, commercials inserted during a live match, replays and other on-field actions and audio soundtrack drowning the match commentary. The BCCI claimed they had made Sony aware of these points in May last year, during the inaugural IPL season.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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