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The Bombay High Court has cleared the way for the BCCI to seek a new broadcast deal by rejecting a plea from Sony TV, which had challenged the Indian cricket board's decision to terminate its five-year deal to televise the IPL.
The BCCI has, meanwhile, signed a fresh broadcast rights deal worth a reported US$1.2 billion with World Sports Group (WSG), which in turn has been engaged in discussions with various broadcasters for a new IPL deal. It has been reported that Sony is among those who are now trying to negotiate a new deal with WSG and sources have indicated that ESPN-Star Sports (ESS) and NDTV, the New Delhi-based media organisation, are also in discussions to telecast the IPL.
It is unclear, though, if Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd, which held the IPL contract under the Sony umbrella, will approach the Supreme Court to appeal against Monday's decision.
Sony had sub-licensed the IPL's subcontinent broadcast rights last year from WSG, who had won an original ten-year bid for US$1.02 billion, but moved the court after receiving a notice of termination from the BCCI, which runs the IPL. The Indian board claimed that Sony had repeatedly violated the integrity of telecast by prematurely cutting to breaks and inserting commercials during a live match, replays and other on-field action.
The court placed a freeze on IPL signing another broadcast deal and in the meantime, attempts between Sony and the IPL to negotiate an out-of-court settlement failed after the broadcaster agreed to the Indian board's commercial terms but sought a "non-terminable contract".
IPL officials were unavailable for a reaction. Rohit Gupta, president of network sales at Multi Screen Media Pvt Ltd said he could not discuss "anything at all" regarding the issue.
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.