Round two for Indian cricket TV rights saga

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Tenders for the telecast of 130 days of cricket between October 2005 to September 2009 are out.

This time though, the BCCI’s legal eagles are all set to swoop on last year’s offenders.

As expected by many, the TV tender rights document contains the three-year experience clause which rules out ZEE TV from making a bid.

It’s not an unexpected development considering the acrimonious battle between ZEE and the BCCI in the courts last year.

ZEE says it does not want to comment on the situation right now and is consulting its lawyers on the whole issue.

Limited choice

However the invitation to tender issued by the BCCI for TV rights limits the choices down to just TEN Sports, DD sports, Sony and ESPN-STAR Sports, since there is also a clause which makes sure that production houses like TWI and Nimbus cannot bid.

ESPN-STAR are considered the front-runners but the far bigger topic of interest is what price the rights will fetch this year.

Last year ZEE won the bid for US$ 308 million or approximately Rs 1,300 crore. This time, the BCCI is expecting US$ 400 million which is approximately Rs 1,700 crore.

The BCCI has set a base price of US$ 280 million or approx Rs 1,200 crores. That works out to Rs 9 crore per day for the 130 days of cricket that are being offered. This does not include the cost of production of the feed.

Revenue row

However, many believe that Rs 1,700 crore is an unrealistic figure. There is still no clarity over whether the government might go in for legislation that would make it mandatory for sports channels to share all feeds with the national broadcaster Doordarshan.

TEN Sports were forced by the Supreme Court to share the telecast of India’s tour to Pakistan last year a move they claim severely dented their revenues.

Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati has apparently already sent a letter to BCCI saying that satellite rights should be sold to private channels but not the terrestrial ones.

Amidst all the jargon in the invitation to tender, which is believed to be 60 pages long, there is one thing that the BCCI deserves credit for.

They’ve put in a clause saying that the TV channel which telecasts the cricket cannot clutter up the live pictures with advertisements that pop up or scroll on the screen.

That’s great news for the fans, but bad news for the television channels for whom on-screen advertising is another way of bringing in more revenue.

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