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Cricket in the time of revamp

21-July-2004
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Cricket in the time of revamp

At a time when restructuring of Prasar Bharati is the buzzword, the public broadcaster has its hands full with the business of sport, rather cricket. While bidding for the five-year telecast rights to international cricket in India is top of the pubcaster’s to-do list, it’s waiting for a rejig in the BCCI format.

Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma told FE that he has spoken to the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Jagmohan Dalmiya, about the new format of matches.

Besides BCCI cricket, the state broadcaster is also caught up with its legal dispute with Dubai-based sport channel Ten Sports. If that’s not all, last-minute advertisements are being booked on DD Sports for some select matches of the Asia Cup tournament.

To be specific, Prasar Bharati, among others, is looking for more one-dayers in the BCCI calendar. Reason: One-dayers are of interest to both viewers and advertisers, it is understood. If the “more-ODI” focus is kept in mind, there may be a total of 30 days of cricket in a year, with 10 ODIs (one-dayers) and four test matches thrown in, Mr Sarma indicated. In the current format, there are 27 days of cricket in a year, with seven ODIs and four tests. A four-member committee is working on the new format right now, and is expected to submit the details by mid-August, it is learnt.

It’s another thing that private broadcasters are also in queue, to bid for the five-year India matches. ESPN-Star Sports, Sony and Ten Sports are among the serious contenders, even as the five-year deal is expected to be quite steep.

According to estimates, the rights to the five-year BCCI matches could come for over Rs 700 crore or so.

While Ten Sports is competing with the state broadcaster for the five-year India matches, the legal dispute between the two over the Indo-Pak series (early this year) has taken a new turn. As reported before, the Supreme Court has asked both Prasar Bharati and Ten Sports to recommend three names each for providing inputs on the case.

Now, Prasar Bharati has decided to hold a meeting on Thursday to shortlist the names. Elaborating on who could fit the bill, Mr Sarma said they could be associated with marketing of cricket, advocates who have dealt with such cases (including former minister Arun Jaitley), or arbitration experts in cricket matches.

Ten Sports CEO Chris McDonald is also in the process of suggesting names to the apex court.

But the icing on the cake is the ongoing Asia Cup tournament. The pubcaster is targeting Rs 20 crore of ad revenues from four matches of Asia Cup, and there’s room still.

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