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Indian pubcaster gets cricket tour

Zee TV, ESPN-Star Sports battling

NEW DELHI — An Indian court Wednesday ordered pubcaster Doordarshan to telecast Pakistan’s cricket tour of India, which starts next week, amid a heated battle between Zee TV and rival ESPN-Star Sports for the rights to televise the India team’s home matches.

Judge K.P. Sivasubramanian of the Chennai high court said Thursday that a final judgement would be made later on a petition filed by Zee, after it was denied the TV rights by the Board of Control for Cricket in India in September.

The board had awarded four-year rights for India’s cricket matches to Zee for a record $308 million, but canceled the deal when rival bidder ESPN-Star Sports, which is backed by Disney and News Corp., challenged it in the Mumbai high court.

Doordarshan telecast the Australian series last year and a subsequent tour by the South Africa team.

Zee’s $308 million offer was six times more than the $54 million paid by Doordarshan for the previous four years, and it dwarfed the government’s yearly sports budget of $44 million.

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