BCCI to terminate Nimbus' Indian cricket deal?

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In what could unceremoniously end one of the world’s largest deals for cricket telecast rights, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has asked rights-holder Nimbus to furnish a pending bank guarantee of around Rs 900 crore or face termination of the $612-million contract.

In February 2006, Nimbus agreed to pay a $612 million (roughly Rs 2,750 crore) for global media rights for all international and domestic matches, owned or controlled by BCCI, to be played in India.

So far, Nimbus is believed to have paid Rs 570 crore to BCCI towards the total deal as part of an arrangement of staggered payments, but the bank guarantee is for the period starting October 2006.

The warning from the cricket board comes days after Nimbus threatened to walk out of the contract if BCCI failed to sort out the matter of signal encryption with state-owned Doordarshan, with which it was forced to share telecast feeds after parliament passed a law decreeing it.

Sources said Nimbus might be waiting for the outcome of a government-appointed committee on encryption of the DD channel. The committee is expected to submit its report soon and if no immediate solution is reached, Nimbus may pressurise BCCI to cut the deal size, taking into account possible revenue losses on account of sharing rights with DD.

Sources said Nimbus expects the government to "compensate" it for the revenue loss due to the feed sharing, though any decision on the subject would be taken by a BCCI working committee meeting later this month. Senior BCCI functionaries, meanwhile, sought to downplay the threat. "It is a regular exercise and not much should be read into an internal memo," a senior member of the board said.

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