Cricket: BCCI to re-issue marketing tender

NEW DELHI: The cricket telecast rights saga just refuses to die down with new twists added at almost every juncture.

Even as Indian pubcaster Doordarshan has objected to a tender floated by the Indian cricket board asking for quotes for getting marketing rights for cricket to be shown over pubcaster's network, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is amending the tender concerned.

While admitting that the marketing tender will be re-issued after certain amendments in few days time, BCCI vice-president and marketing panel head Lalit Modi told today, "The changes are being made keeping in mind a recent Supreme Court ruling in a case between DD and Ten Sports."

Though Modi refused to hand out the details of the changes being made in the marketing tender, he indicated that "certain rights that were included in the tender are being held back by the BCCI."

Late last month just before the commencement of the India-Pakistan one-day cricket series in Pakistan, in an interim observation SC had endorsed a compromise formula reached between DD and Ten Sports wherein DD agreed to carry Ten Sports feed, along with its logo and ads, on payment of Rs. 150 million.

However, the very fact that BCCI will decide on the marketing agency for cricket televised on DD and the quantum of revenue generated has irked Prasar Bharati, which manages DD and All India Radio.

In a letter to the BCCI, Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma has said propriety demanded that the cricket board should have consulted it before issuing the marketing tender.

Pointing out that BCCI's $ 100 million floor limit for marketing rights for cricket on DD, is "way off the mark on the higher side," a senior official of Prasar Bharati today counter punched, "First, why should some body else market programmes on DD? Then, BCCI's premise of awarding the rights to some agency is wrong."

Why wrong? According to Prasar Bharati, if a third agency markets cricket for DD, then the pubcaster's share of revenue --- 25 per cent as mandated by the government --- will fall. Reason: marketing and advertising agencies will take their cut of 15 per cent each as commission.

"If this happens, then it would mean DD will get one fourth of 70 per cent instead of 85 per cent as the marketing agency too would take its normal cut of 15 per cent commission," the Prasar Bharati official explained.

But these arguments, as enlisted in Sarma's letter to the BCCI, are failing to cut much ice with the cricket authorities. At least till now.

"We will re-issue the marketing tender and if Prasar Bharati is so concerned about its revenues, then it can also bid for the rights," Modi retorted.

Interestingly, Prasar Bharati feels that it should be "given an opportunity to match" a quote from a marketing agency.

BCCI to go ahead with FM radio rights

The Indian cricket board is pressing ahead with its plans to sell separate cricket rights to FM radio stations, which are now on the upswing with the government having completed the second phase of licensing in 91 cities.

"We are going ahead with the FM radio rights," Modi asserted, adding that these are some of the many ways in which BCCI revenue can be maximized.

When pointed out that the government and Prasar Bharati feel cricket would fall under the category of news and current affairs, which is not allowed on private FM radio stations, Modi said, "If somebody wants to take us to the court on this, let them."

It is worthwhile to add here that last week in a meeting of a

recently-formed ICE (information, communication and entertainment) panel, under the Prime Minister's Office, the issue of news and current affairs on private FM radio stations was taken up.

A member of the panel told, though no decision has been taken yet, a large number of the ICE panel members feel news could be allowed on private FM radio stations.

The ICE panel was formed barely a month back by the PMO to look into sector-specific issues, including a regulatory authority for television.

Historically, the ministries of home and information and broadcasting have been against allowing news on private FM radio stations on grounds of national security.

Meanwhile, BCCI has already received bids from Reliance Infocomm, Zee Telefilms, Nimbus Sports International PTE Ltd, and Taj Television India Pvt Ltd for production rights, amongst others.

For global media rights to Indian cricket, according to Times of India, BCCI has received expressions of interest, amongst others, from the likes of ESPN Star Sports, SET Satellite Singapore PTE,. Reliance Infocomm, Zee Telefilms Ltd, Nimbus, Sahara One and DirecTV and Echostar of the US.

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