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WSG for early solution of IPL row
MUMBAI: World Sport Group (WSG), the London-based sports management company that holds the Indian Premier League's (IPL) global media rights, is said to be holding discussions with IPL, to sort out the differences over sponsors and broadcasters. Despite the change of guard at Sony India, with CEO Kunal Dasgupta quitting, IPL is still awaiting a clarification from the broadcaster on Big TV's aborted deal.

As has been reported earlier, IPL-season 2 is not without drama and confusion, with sponsors walking out even before the first ball has been bowled. Big TV's Rs 137-crore deal came undone, with the corporate citing contractual violations. IPL, then, asked Sony for an explanation.

IPL CEO Sundar Raman said: "Sony is a partner and we have a deal with them. A ground partner has raised an issue. We are still awaiting Sony's clarification on those charges. They have not yet reverted.'' As for the talks with WSG to resolve the issue, Raman added: "What issue? There is no issue.''

WSG brought the rights from BCCI for 10 years, and then fanned it out for five-years to Multi Screen Media (MSM, earlier Sony Entertainment Television). A Sony official, however, insisted, "It is a back-to-back deal for 10 years.'' Jointly, these two entertainment giants--WSG & MSM--have already spent $108 million on promotional aspects, sources indicated.

In this war for big bucks, media agencies, however, point to another angle. "Their (Sony) bigger problem is not IPL. It is the New Zealand series, for which they agreed to pay $45 million. Given the current market meltdown, their sales have been very low. How will they recover their finance? That is the bigger issue at stake,'' a senior media official, who has bought advertising spots for the New Zealand series, requesting anonymity, said.

Sony officials could not be contacted for comments.

Amid the confusion lies one unnoticed fact--whoever bags the on-air and/or on-ground rights for IPL 2, primarily being fought over by Airtel and Big TV at this point, the broadcaster has to necessarily share the feed with all DTH players, including Tata Sky, Sun Direct and Dish TV, according to Trai rules.

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