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Telecast rights: BCCI may deal with broadcasters directly

Nithya Subramanian

New Delhi , Aug. 6

IN an attempt to disintermediate the bidding process for the multi-crore cricket telecast rights, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is considering permitting only those companies that own television channels to participate in it.

According to sources in the BCCI, marketing agencies or sports management companies may be kept out of the race. "This is being considered to eliminate middle-men and directly interact with the broadcaster," said the source. In the past, sports management companies have acquired the rights to cricketing events and then sold it to broadcasters.

Even Sony Entertainment TV India had bagged the satellite rights for the ICC cricket for the region for the next six years, including the next two World Cups, from World Sports Group (WSG) Nimbus for a reported sum of $255 million. WSG Nimbus provided sponsorship and event management services, besides being involved in broadcast license marketing and management business.

"The BCCI does not want to lose money as the marketing company normally ends up selling the rights to the broadcaster at a profit. The cricket board wants to maximise its profits," said sources.

The contest for acquiring the telecast rights is expected to start next week after the BCCI meets in Mumbai to decide on the final modalities, which will include the tenure of the bid and the number of matches. It will then give the bidders a fortnight's time to prepare the bids.

Meanwhile, the broadcasting industry is expecting the bids to be extremely high. While the national broadcaster had acquired the rights about five years ago for about Rs 250 crore, this time round it is expected to touch over Rs 500 crore - Rs 600 crore. Besides ESPN-Star Sports, Sony Entertainment Television, Ten Sports and Prasar Bharati are bidding for the rights, the market buzz suggests that others such as Zee and Sahara have also evinced interest.

Sports broadcasters in India have maintained that the India matches are crucial to the business plan. "Cricket generates the maximum revenues and the interest in India matches is incomparable. Almost all the broadcasters would be interested in these matches if they want to sustain their businesses," said an advertising industry official.

Currently ESPN-Star Sports have the rights to matches organised by England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbawe and Bangladesh, Ten Sports has the rights to matches played in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and West Indies while Sony has the rights to the forthcoming Holland Cup and the ICC Trophy including two World Cups.

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