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Cricket biz on front foot even on sticky wicket

cricket Updated: Feb 21, 2009 09:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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India Premier League (IPL), the slam-bang T20 cricket tournament, continues to remain among the most sought-after media and entertainment property of the television world, but controversies is threatening is play party-pooper.

A consortium of Sony Entertainment TV and World Sports Group (WSG) won the 10- year telecast rights, but IPL went ahead and sold the on-ground rights separately to Reliance Communications arm Big DTH for a sum of Rs 137 crore.

Sony, separately had signed an exclusive Rs 30 crore Airtel Digital for an on-air deal, prompting the Big DTH to withdraw stating this amounted to “ambush marketing” as both the companies were competing in the same direct-to-home television market.

Sony on Friday denied any move that it has begun negotiations with Big DTH and was open to call off the deal with Airtel Digital.

“There is absolutely not truth in this. There is no renegotiation with any entity,” Rohit Gupta, president of the company told Hindustan Times.

IPL governing council was optimistic that the issue would be resolved soon.

“We are jointly working with the management team at Sony to address this and we are confident that we will be able to amicably resolve the operational issues to the satisfaction of all the concerned parties,” IPL chairman and commissioner Lalit Modi said.

Reliance Big DTH, however, denied that any fresh discussion has been initiated.

“There has been no formal communication from any quarter,” Sanjay Behl, Group Head (Brand & Marketing), Reliance Big DTH said.

Sony denied it has received any notice from IPL. It said it has already sold 60 per cent of ad spots and had five sponsors on board, despite reports that sponsors were backing out.

Modi also dismissed reports about shrinking sponsor interest in the event.

“I want to make it amply clear that all our sponsors and partners remain resolute and steadfast in their commitment to the DLF Indian Premier League. They are all very much still on board and not a single partner has pulled out. They have all paid as per the schedule. In fact, we have received a lot of offers from potential sponsors at multiple prices willing to pay much more for our properties,” he said.