Cricket telecast bids may open next week

MUMBAI/DELHI: The cricket telecast rights mega show is all set to roll with the rights for BCCI (Board for Control of Cricket in India)-organised home series likely to go under hammer middle of next week. Probable duration of the new contract: four years.

A BCCI meeting, scheduled in Mumbai on 9-10 August, would take a final call on the modalities and yardsticks for awarding the telecast rights for cricket series to be held in India. A formal announcement in this regard is expected on or around 11 August.

Speaking to on Tuesday over phone, a guarded BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalmiya said, "We would finalise the details (regarding telecast rights) over the next seven to 10 days."

BCCI is likely to give bidders approximately 15 days time to finalise bids for submission and there is an expectation that some joint bids may be made too.

Though Dalmiya refused to shell out any further detail, another official of BCCI, on condition of anonymity, indicated that the cricket board expects the new bids to be 'at least double' of what was obtained last time.

Last time, Indian pubcaster Doordarshan had bagged the rights for a sum ranging between Rs 2.3 billion to Rs 2.5 billion for five years.

However, industry people are a bit sceptical about BCCIs expectations from the proposed fresh round of bidding. According to sports management company Nimbus chairman Harish Thawani, "It will take courage for someone to even offer Rs. 5 billion. There is so much regulatory uncertainty that when push comes to shove, people's hands will shake when they have to sign off on a figure of Rs 5 billion plus."

What is unclear to at the moment is the periodicity of the rights that would be finally decided. The BCCI panel that would meet next week may say that in the absence of data on the calendar of events for full five years, bids would be invited for four years only.

According to information collated from the broadcast and sports management industries, as of now, four years rights would comprise 12 Test matches and 48 one-dayers. This works out to 60 days of Tests with four one-dayers per Test, on an average.

What is also hazy is the fact whether the agreement with DD has come to an end or not. Prasar Bharati, which manages DD and All India Radio, is of the opinion that the deal is valid for Australias tour of India later this year, while BCCI feels the contract has come to a natural end.

The bidder list would include the usual suspects (like ESPN-Star Sports, DD, Sony, Nimbus and Ten Sports) and the unusual ones like Reliance, News Corp, Zee Telefilms and Sahara.

As the cricket razzmatazz is set to roll on the BCCI front, fasten your seatbelts for some rapid action and behind-the-scene activities. Simply because there are wheels within wheels and the bidding for the just-concluded Asia Cup could be a good place to start drawing some inferences. Why the Asia Cup? Well, the Asian Cricket Council manages this tourney and BCCI chief Dalmiya heads that too.

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