On Saturday morning, some surprised — and delighted — viewers caught the India vs Australia Test live on Zee Sports.
Surprised because Zee does not have the rights to broadcast the ongoing series, Neo Cricket does.
Delighted because the telecast on Zee had everything that Neo doesn’t: short, snappy ad breaks that do not frustrate replays and eat into the live action.
The unauthorised telecast was pulled off Zee by afternoon.
Inadvertently — or so said Zee — the telecast was interspersed by commercials for the Indian Cricket League (ICL), whose players have been banned from official cricket by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
The BCCI and the ICL, the latter run by media baron Subhash Chandra, have frequently clashed.
So, in between watching India’s ‘legal’ cricketers, you would learn a bit about their banned ICL counterparts in teams like the Delhi Giants, the Ahmedabad Rockets and other snazzily named outfits.
The screen showed the BCCI logo on the left (as on Neo Cricket) and that of Zee Sports on the right, with the term ‘Dish Service’ superimposed on it.
When contacted BCCI officials initially said the telecast was “impossible”. Asked to switch on Zee Sports, they saw it too.
While no one wanted to come on record, a Zee official later told Hindustan Times that “some local operator had hacked into Zee’s US feed and scrambled the two”. A transmission engineer from Bangalore said that a 12-digit broadcast code may have been hacked. “It changes every day, but can be easily cracked by anyone who has official access,” he said.
The Zee official said the channel has the US rights for the ongoing series, and that was the feed telecast on Saturday. “We had it stopped immediately,” he said.