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Sony, IPL make revised offers to BIG TV
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In a desperate bid to save a big-ticket sponsorship, both Sony Entertainment (now Multi Screen Media) and the Indian Premier League (IPL) are believed to have made revised offers to BIG TV — the DTH arm of the Reliance ADA Group.

The move comes in the wake of Airtel DTH’s refusal to buy the currently vacant on-ground rights following BIG TV’s exit. Sony also fears that the IPL broadcasting rights may go to ESPN.

According to sources close to the development, both Sony and IPL are holding informal talks with BIG TV on the new offer. The new offer from IPL is in the range of Rs 70 crore and Sony’s around Rs 15 crore. IPL and Sony officials could not be reached for comments.

BIG TV’s exit from IPL has taken its toll and heads have started rolling. Kunal Dasgupta, CEO, Multi Screen Media, has put in his papers on Wednesday evening. Moreover, IPL has been finding it difficult to find a big-ticket replacement for BIG TV.

BIG TV officials have made it clear that the deal would be revived only if all the original terms and conditions were met. Sanjay Behl, group head (brand and marketing), Reliance Communications, has confirmed that Sony came to BIG TV with its on-air offer but awarded the contract to a rival before BIG TV could respond.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had urged Sony to convert Airtel’s exclusive on-air Rs 30-crore deal as a presenting sponsor to a consolidated ground and on-air deal.

Sony officials are now under pressure to either ensure Airtel also comes on board as IPL’s on-ground sponsor or pay IPL Rs 137 crore in damages.

Last week, BIG TV cancelled its Rs 137-crore, four-year deal with IPL. The company cited pricing discrimination by Sony as the reason for its exit. BIG TV has already communicated its decision to IPL’s CEO Sundar Raman, who has already sought clarification from Sony on the issue.

Sources say that the discriminatory pricing refers to the fact that Sony offered Airtel DTH the on-air sponsorship deal at one-fourth the price quoted to BIG TV. This despite the fact that BIG TV had the First Right of Refusal (FRoR), being the on-ground partner for IPL.

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