The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Telecast tussle bleeds cricket board

Feb. 17: What Team India's worst middle-order collapses couldn't do, the fight for telecast rights has done ' it is draining the coffers of the world's richest cricket board.

BCCI, the highest cricket authority in the country, has admitted to losses of Rs 150 crore during the telecast of the South Africa and Australia series.

In a letter to Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah, BCCI secretary S.K. Nair wrote: 'If we assume that Rs 275 crore would have come from these two series if the four-year deal was through, the ad hoc arrangement (with Doordarshan) has fetched approximately Rs 130 crore and the loss was' Rs 150 crore.'

Nair was replying to Shah's apprehensions that the affiliated units of BCCI may have lost revenues to the tune of Rs 15 crore, as expressed in a letter to BCCI president Ranbir Singh Mahendra.

The latest victim of the telecast tussle for four-year rights to international cricket played in India is the just-concluded Challenger Series that had to do without a sponsor, live beam ' and even the third umpire ' owing to the imbroglio.

The losses can only mount if the telecast rights for the coming Pakistan series, scheduled to get underway at the end of this month, also goes to the national broadcaster. 'The current ad rate for India cricket ODIs is around Rs 6-7 lakh for a 30-second spot,' said an official of a sports channel.

'Having the entire content in hand would provide a much greater bargaining power for a broadcaster. If someone had the four-year rights, he could command progressive ad rates for each of the series as they happened. The Pakistan series could then see ad rates of around Rs 10-11 lakh per 30-second spot, a 60 per cent jump,' the official explained.

'With only one series and so much uncertainty, DD would not be able to do this,' he added.

The rights-holder would also have the provision of trying various permutations and combinations with advertisers, such as striking a deal for more than one series or bargaining better on the strength of other series in hand.

With a case pertaining to the rights issue in Madras High Court, Doordarshan would only be able to negotiate verbally with sponsors about the Pakistan series and wait for a last-minute decision.

BCCI had decided to award telecast rights for all international matches to be played in India for four years to Zee Telefilms for $308 million.

However, it decided to withdraw its letter of intent to Zee after ESPN-STAR Sports, the second-highest bidder for the rights, moved Bombay High Court against the awarding of rights.

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