Television

Cricket TV bids to be invited this week: BCCI

NEW DELHI: The Indian cricket board is likely to invite bids for TV rights this week. This time the rights have been broken up in to various categories like radio, DTH and broadband.

“I am making a presentation to the marketing committee (of the cricket board) on Monday. Hopefully this week the tender for telecast rights should be out,” Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) vice-president Lalit Modi told Indiantelevision.com.

According to Modi, the Board sees no reason as to why the bids from broadcasters should on the lower side.

“I don’t see why people are saying government regulation will push down the value of Indian cricket. Rather, this time we expect to collect more revenue by selling various (broadcast) rights,” Modi added.

In 2004, when BCCI had invited bids, which got entangled in protracted legal battle, Zee Telefilms had ultimately quoted a humungous $ 308 million for four years of right to Indian cricket. Zee was closely followed by ESPN Star Sports.

However, this time broadcast industry feels that a government norm of sharing cricket feeds with pubcaster Doordarshan on a mandatory basis, apart from other listed sports, will push down the price of Indian cricket.

Ten Sports and ESPN Star Sports have already challenged the norm in courts, while for the ongoing India-Pakistan cricket series, the government waived the sharing norm for Test matches when cornered in Supreme Court over rights fee to be paid to Pakistan cricket rights holder Ten Sports.

But the BCCI thinks otherwise and Modi echoed the feelings when he said that the cricket administration body is with the government on the sharing norm.

“BCCI is happy that DD will get to show cricket matches as its terrestrial reach outstrips that of any satellite broadcaster. Any popular game should reach out to the maximum number of people free of cost,” said Modi, fresh from making a presentation before the International Cricket Council (ICC) members in Karachi last week.

ICC chief Ehsan Mani had expressed his reservation on the Indian government ruling related to TV rights and had trashed the same saying such a diktat will financially impact cash-strapped Council members.

But, points out Modi, globally government endeavours to put popular sports of national importance on free TV instead of pay television and India is no exception. He cited the examples of European Union mandate of television without frontiers and those prevalent in other sports.

“Even tennis Grand Slams, Olympics and Commonwealth Games try to ensure that their events reach out to maximum number of people through free television and not get locked in pay TV,” Modi said.

Citing ESPN Star Sports and Ten Sports reach figures --- according to him, ESS’ maximum reach would be approximately 24 million C&S homes compared to DD’s over 90 million --- Modi said DD’s massive reach will ensure that more advertising money flows in.

Punching holes in sports broadcasters’ and ICC arguments that their revenue will fall if cricket is shared with DD, Modi said, “What sports broadcasters are trying to do is push subscription TV (and revenue) at the cost of viewership and BCCI doesn’t agree with such a theory.”

He further added: “Sports broadcasters should stop funding acquisition of other sports from the money made from cricket.”

Modi, a businessman whose company is active in the field of media and entertainment, said that ICC members saw reason in BCCI’s arguments favouring DD.

However, Modi’s line of argument was different when his Modi Entertainment Network used to handle the distribution of Ten Sports in 2004 and when ahead of another historic Pakistan tour by Indian team that year, Ten had dragged the government and Prasar Bharati to court.

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