Cricket: DD tries upstaging others

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: Even as sports broadcasters grapple with the numbers for Indian cricket's telecast rights, pubcaster Doordarshan is trying to upstage others by insisting on unbundling of rights into satellite and terrestrial and also exploring a tie-up with ESPN Star Sports.

What is interesting is that despite knowing that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has set a floor price of $ 2.14 million per day of cricket being available, DD has said it would "bid independently too."



Pointing out that ideally it would like terrestrial rights to be hawked separately by the BCCI, an official of Prasar Bharati, which manages DD, said, "Considering the amount of criticism that we face, we are looking at bidding independently too after studying the tender document properly."

The floor price set by the BCCI means that for cricket between 120-130 days over a period of four years till 30 September 2009, bidders would have to bid a minimum of $ 278.2 million (for 130 days) and / or $ 256.8 million (for 120 days).

Last year when the BCCI had invited tenders for cricket rights, which got embroiled into legal controversies, Prasar Bharati had put up a bid of $ 150 million, which was higher that than figures quoted by Sony Entertainment TV ($140 million) and Ten Sports ($115 million).



DD also has the distinction of holding the rights for domestic cricket for four years ended 2004 for which it had paid the BCCI approximately Rs 230 crore ($ 50 million calculating at Rs 46 = $1 exchange rate in 2000).

Zee Telefilms, which had emerged the top bidder in last year's contentious process, had originally quoted a humungous figure of $ 260 million, while ESS was second highest at $ 230 million.

This time round the Indian cricket board expects to make at least $400 million from selling the television rights for matches in India, from 1 October, 2005, till 30 September, 2009.

However, it remains to be seen whether the government would permit Prasar Bharati to put up a minimum bid for the domestic cricket rights this time round.

Still, DD has not rejected informal overtures made by ESPN Star Sports again this time for a tie up envisaging sharing of live cricket, Test highlights and revenue.

Confirming that ESS would bid after studying the tender documents, a senior executive of the company told, "We have always had a good relationship with DD and would like to have a pact like last time."

Last year, just before bidding opened for Indian cricket, ESS and DD had struck a deal whereby if the latter won the rights it would share with DD live the one-day matches, while making available highlights for the Test matches.

Marketing was to be done independently by the two sides, while DD would have given a lion's share of the ad revenue it mopped up. However, that pact could not fructify last year.

Meanwhile, according to the tender document floated by the BCCI a successful bidder would have to cough up upfront 7.5 per cent of the bid amount. A security deposit of $ 300,000 has also been mandated.

BCCI is also offering a 25 per cent discount on matches involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and the deadline for submission of bids is 23 August.

Interestingly, while the BCCI has not reverted yet to DD's request of selling terrestrial rights separately, it has excluded rights for broadband and wireless from the broadcast deal.

The Board has also said that marketing companies would not be allowed to bid for the rights, which means that the likes of Nimbus and TWI/IMG are not eligible.

The successful bidder would also have to provide live coverage of an unspecified number of domestic matches as may be required by the BCCI.

The successful bidder would also have to ensure that all international matches be shown live on a ball- to-ball basis without any interruption and without any scroll running on the screen (a common practise these days).

It has also to be ensured that no replay during the match be interrupted through advertisements or commercials.

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