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BCCI, Sony slug it out in court

cricket Updated: Mar 17, 2009 00:06 IST
Kanchan Chaudhari
Kanchan Chaudhari
Hindustan Times
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The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to grant any relief to Sony Television Network over its dispute with the BCCI over the telecast rights of 2009 Indian Premier League.

Sony dragged the BCCI to the court after the latter hastily terminated the $ one billion contract for a 10-year period on Saturday evening and restrained the Indian television network from entering into any further sub-contracts with third parties.

A single judge bench of Justice SJ Kathawala will hear further arguments on Sony’s arbitration petition, as lawyers from both sides could not complete their arguments on Monday.

Sony’s counsel Iqbal Chagla informed the court that the BCCI has cited two main breaches for terminating the contract — Sony bypassed Reliance, an official sponsor of the tournament, while awarding sub-contracts despite a specific provision in the agreement between the BCCI and Sony, and over the use of commercials during the telecast of matches.

He requested the court to restrain the BCCI from acting any further on a new agreement signed by it on March 15, 2009 with World Sports Group of Mauritius, contending that Reliance was never an official sponsor and therefore there was no question of Reliance backing out and causing losses to the cricketing body.

He added that the WSG Mauritius had terminated a contract signed by WSG India — Sony’s consortium partner.

Chagla further contended that under the contract between the BCCI and Sony, the latter was given exclusive rights to telecast matches in India. Accordingly, Sony has incurred enormous expenditure on marketing rights with respect to the 2009 episode of the T-20 league.

BCCI counsel Virendra Tulzapurkar, however, submitted that WSG Mauritius episode had nothing to do with the Sony contract.

“The Mauritius-based organisation has purchased international telecast rights of IPL matches by paying much more than what Sony paid for Indian territorial rights,” he added.

Tulzapurkar also argued that the contract between BCCI and Sony has already been terminated with issuance of a notice to that effect and therefore now there is no question of staying the termination as sought by Sony.

The court is now expected to issue interim orders on the dispute.