Indian board looking at exploring new sources of revenue December 8, 2005

Meeting decides on fresh bids for telecast rights

PTI

In yet another move overturning the Jagmohan Dalmiya-era decisions, the Indian board on Thursday cancelled existing tenders for telecast rights and decided to invite fresh bids in an attempt to steer clear of legal quagmires and provide a level playing field.

A senior board official said that protracted litigation had led to a lot of bad blood between the bidders and the new Sharad Pawar regime in the BCCI wanted to be fair to all interested parties.

"BCCI would like to get out of all legal battles in courts with regard to telecast rights and so we have decided to approach the courts and seek their approval to cancel the current tender and put out fresh tenders with fresh terms very shortly," Lalit Modi, vice-president of the BCCI and a member of its marketing committee said in New Delhi. "There were two compelling reasons to go in for fresh bids. First the matter is in courts and secondly we wanted the clauses to be fair with regard to qualification issues."

The tenders would be floated on December 12 before being opened on December 19. "And on December 20, the marketing committee will decide on the rights," Modi added.

Significantly, the eligibility clause for bidders requiring a minimum of three years of broadcasting experience has been done away with. Also, the highest bidder will be awarded the rights and BCCI will enjoy no discretionary powers as was the case earlier.

The terrestrial and satellite rights have been separated and BCCI would adhere to the national policy regarding sharing of the live feed with the public broadcaster.

Modi also said that the proposal for the BCCI to float its own channel had come up during the meeting and "this plan would be developed". However, N Srinivasan, the board treasurer, clarified that the matter had been discussed just in passing after there were queries on whether it would adversely affect the interest of the bidders. "It was discussed in passing, no decision has been taken on (the channel) as yet. It would be premature to comment anything on it," he said.

Modi also revealed that the new bids were subject to the tours and fixtures of the Indian team being finalised, as well as court rulings. "Before the new tenders are floated, we will have the complete schedule of the tours and fixtures of the Indian team which is essential for deciding the time frame for which the telecast rights would be given."

Referring to the "external agency" which Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, had said the board would involve to professionalise the set-up, Modi said talks were on with Tata Consultancy for the same.

Meanwhile, the board is looking at exploring new sources of revenue and would soon open itself to product merchandising, ground sponsorship, team kit and apparel licensing, as a part of its 'Future Vision' on marketing the game in the country.

Unveiling the ambitious and aggressive marketing plan, Lalit Modi, a key member of the marketing committee said the aim was to maximise the gains from the game for the benefit of the game. "There would be a single sponsor for all matches -- one-dayers and Tests to be played at home and away. But to maximise value, we will have separate team sponsors for Champions Trophy and World Cup to avoid conflict of interest with the companies which are the existing official partners of ICC."

Team sponsorship would entail branding on the chest and the leading arm of the player's shirt, which would "offer unprecedented brand exposure". Tenders for the sponsors would be issued on December 12 and opened a week later.

The team kit sponsor will get branding on the non-leading arm of the player's outfit. "BCCI will now be adding value to its portfolio of marketable properties by adding an Official Kit supplier to the Indian team," Modi said.

The official supplier rights would entail among others, kit for players, official time keeper, official airline, official hotel and official media partner. The aim behind these moves was to "unbundle and sell separately the previous sponsorship which was comprehensive in nature.... We don't want to be restrictive. We want to be equitable and fair to all parties," he added.

The BCCI would also invite bids for the award of apparel licencee and as per ICC rules, the bidding would be open to all apparel manufacturers cum retailers. Ground sponsorship would range from a company's logo being placed on the wicket to the insignia painted on the field.

Licensing of merchandise would see branded goods being made available for sale through retail outlets and departmental stores. "In a country like India, it is important to have a strategy against counterfeiting. This would be achieved by selling merchandise through BCCI shops or within shops of branded companies like Nike etc," Modi said.

He also had a word of praise for Sahara whose contract with the Indian team ended recently. "Sahara was a very good sponsor, their sponsorship of the team was exemplary," he said adding that they had shown interest in re-bidding.

PTI