Big TV may come back for IPL sponsorship

Anil Ambani group firm Big TV may be back in contention for sponsoring the T20 cricket league IPL, which it had dumped last month due to differences with event broadcaster Sony, with organisers initiating fresh moves for a reconciliation.

Big TV, the erstwhile on-ground DTH partner, felt aggrieved by the broadcaster Multi Screen Media (Sony) tying up with Airtel Digital TV, a Sunil Mittal led group company, saying it had the first right to on-air sponsorship.

“We are still awaiting a clarification from Sony. There are certain rights which (have) to be given to our on-ground partners (BIG TV) and if that is not given we will have to see why it has not been given,” IPL CEO Sundar Raman said.

“(The talk of) the revised on-air or on-ground sponsorship offers is mere speculation at this juncture and we do not want to comment on (it),” a Big TV spokesperson said.

“As per the arrangement with IPL, we were assured of sponsorship protection rights for an on-air deal with Sony. But Sony has proceeded to sign an on-air presenting sponsor deal with our competitor and hence we had little choice but to withdraw from this tournament,” the spokesperson said.

The IPL organisers had sought a clarification from MSM, the broadcast rights holder of the IPL after Big TV withdrew from the Rs 137 crore on-ground sponsorship deal as a DTH partner.

Big TV had claimed that it was not given the first on-air rights by MSM, which had struck a deal with its rival Airtel Digital TV for an estimated Rs 32 crore for the 2009 season.

Raman said IPL would ensure that its on-ground sponsors got the rights they were entitled to.

When contacted MSM President Rohit Gupta said, “We are still in discussion (with IPL).”

Asked if the broadcaster would give Big TV the on-air rights, Gupta declined to comment stating IPL Chairman Lalit Modi had already cleared the air.

Modi had last week said the on-air sponsorship dispute involving Sony, Big TV and Airtel, and him were “business issues and we are jointly addressing it. We are in the process of resolving the issue.”

The Big TV spokesperson said there has been no official communication to the firm from BCCI, IPL or MSM post withdrawal.

When contacted officials of Airtel Digital TV said: “We have no comments to offer.”

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