SLC to sort out problem with Ten Sports

In a bid to avoid a legal battle with Ten Sports, Sri Lanka Cricket is now trying to save the domestic telecast rights deal with the sports channel.

updated: July 16, 2008 17:04 IST
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In a bid to avoid a legal battle with Ten Sports, Sri Lanka Cricket is now trying to save the multi-million dollar domestic telecast rights deal with the sports channel ahead of the lucrative series against India.

Ten Sports has already warned that it was open to all options, including legal action, if the SLC goes ahead with the decision to terminate the new deal that was valid from 2009-12.

The man at the centre of the controversy, business tycoon and former SLC interim committee chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa, under whose regime the deal was signed, has expressed confidence that the issue would be sorted out through discussion.

"We undertook the deal in a transparent way and I am looking forward to meeting the Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge to find an amicable solution to the whole unfortunate issue," Dharmadasa said on Sunday.

The deal was cancelled following the findings of a special three-member committee headed by the Secretary to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Sports and Public Recreation S Liyanagama.

"I have instructed SLC to cancel the television contract after receiving the finding of a special three-member committee," Sri Lankan Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge had said last week.

Dharmadasa said the deal was reasonable considering there were only two confirmed home series - against West Indies and Pakistan -- till 2012 at that point of time.

"They have said that the whole deal was not transparent and we have not obtained the minister's (Lokuge) approval to sign it. The reality is that we did get the Interim Committee approval and there was no requirement of getting get the minister's approval," Dharmadasa said.

"This is because the Interim Committee was given full authority on a gazette notification to take all necessary decisions for the smooth flow of the running of the organisation," he said.

Meanwhile, Ten Sports Chief executive Chris McDonald has reportedly written a letter to SLC Chief Executive Duleep Mendis on the issue.

"The way to mitigate this problem is for SLC and Taj Television Ltd (which operates sports channel Ten sports) to sit down and amicably discuss potential solutions - not for SLC to unlawfully and wrongly terminate our contract based on the siren song of other broadcasters.

"Any such termination would have severe legal repercussions," McDonald said in the letter.

Dharmadasa also pointed out that SLC would be faced with litigation problems from Taj TV Ltd. if the deal is cancelled.

The decision by SLC calls for terminating the deal involving two new agreements signed with Ten Sports for providing TV rights for home matches from 2009 to 2012.

The Review Committee was asked to probe circumstances in which the agreements for the new contract deal were signed.

Taj Television is, however, entitled to participate in any tender that would be floated by the SLC for future TV rights.