Australia in India 2012-13 February 14, 2013

ABC not to cover India Tests on radio

ESPNcricinfo staff

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has decided to abandon its radio commentary of the India-Australia Test series because of issues over radio rights. The ABC had called off its original plans to cover the series live from India after failing to reach a deal with the rights holders Star Group.

Explaining the decision not to send a full commentary team to India, the ABC's manager of Grandstand Sport, Craig Norenbergs, said in an official statement, "The ABC undertakes a rigorous review of all international sporting events and associated costs and unfortunately, as in the case of this tour, we are unable to send a complete team."

According to the Star Group, however, the decision over the radio rights was yet to be decided. "Star India are in negotiations with various interested parties regarding radio coverage in Australia," a spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo. "We hope to close a deal shortly and wish to clarify that the BCCI has no role in these negotiations."

The impasse over radio rights between rights holders and a traditional Australian broadcaster has led to a situation where Australian listeners will not have access to free-to-air live radio commentary of a major cricket series. This void is being filled in by internet commentary providers, like the London-based Test Match Sofa, which is offering free online audio commentary for the India series off television pictures.

In addition to the withdrawal of the ABC's full commentary team, Jim Maxwell, the ABC's veteran correspondent, was unable to gain BCCI accreditation to report from within the grounds, because ABC had not bought radio rights to the series. While Fox Sports will broadcast the series on television to fee-paying subscribers within Australia, the withdrawal of ABC meant there would be no free-to-air audio service for listeners in Australia.

Ahead of the India-England series late last year, similar fees were demanded of television broadcasters Sky and radio broadcasters BBC for on-ground coverage.

The BBC's fees were met by a third party - a company called Cricket Radio, which had bought the radio rights for the England series from Star, but Sky refused to pay. The series was covered from the Sky studio in London, with pictures from the BCCI-produced world feed.

It was not possible to formally confirm the details of the radio commentary costs involved with Star, but it is understood that India's national radio broadcaster All India Radio pays between $3000 to $4000 per Test in India for live radio commentary. Over a five-Test series in India, the total sum for the purchase of live radio commentary rights falls between US$15,000 and US$20,000.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Terence on February 17, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    The tragedy is this. For decades Australians have listened at home & work & driving in their cars etc, to cricket commentaries from India. Loving the atmosphere coming through the speaker & the direct contact with the contest. The chats with Indian commentators & ex-players, the unfolding drama in a different country and culture that all of us learn something about and feel a little closer to through this sort of broadcast and a shared passion for the great game. For the sake of a few thousand dollars all of that is lost. Not only does the Australian fan lose, but so does the game of cricket and the two countries' peoples. The chance to spread a little more goodwill and knowledge goes begging. Make no mistake, live radio commentaries are still a huge part of the Australian sports experience and are often mentioned in songs and articles about being a sports fan in Oz. I and many people I know are saddened by this. Shame on those responsible, you are not friends of the game or its fans.

  • sanjeewa on February 17, 2013, 6:06 GMT

    Australia and England broadcast owners should take leaf out of the Indian counterpart and banned them for broadcasting their below par boring commentary on TV when India travel AUS or ENG for heaven sake of the cricket loving public in the subcontinent.They ruined last English summer and Aus summer by hacking Sky and Channel9 broadcast with utterly boring coverage.

  • Pavan on February 16, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    Very disappointing for cricket fans in Australia, especially regional areas ... clearly ABC does not "rate" this series. The practice for selling Radio Rights is standard practice (nothing to do with BCCI) & the amounts involved are nominal by current media standards. Yes, there is the cost of having 4 or so commentators traveling overseas for a month. Surely the total cost is still great value for money. Net net another nail in the coffin of the grass root cricket supporter!!!

  • John on February 16, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    @ Facebook User and RednWhiteArmy

    The ABC was the first broadcaster to provide international ball-by-ball coverage of Test cricket (in the year I was born, incidentally). At that time they depended on international cables for information, and the commentary was generated in Sydney. After experimentation, they decided that tapping a pencil end on the desk made a fair substitute for the sound of the bat on the ball! When I was a boy (still before TV in Australia) everyone I knew bought the ABC Cricket Book. Lots (like me) followed the broadcasts and completed the included score sheets. With 75 years of non-paid-for access, I think they are entitled to make their point. And as for RnWA, I'm anticipating pleasurable winter nights this year. I'm hoping for normal service to be resumed.

  • John on February 16, 2013, 3:40 GMT


    When Rupert Murdoch had to do something about his citizenship, he immediately chose US citizenship. US law requires (or required) media proprietors to be US citizens. That is when Rupert ceased to be an Australian.

  • Jason on February 16, 2013, 0:37 GMT

    The BCCI is doing a great job...... that is why there is no coverage at all of the IPL and now no readily accessable (free to air does not mean that you should only have access if you have the internet) to the India v Australia test.

    To all those BCCI fans out there that feel a moral obligation to defend them just because they are an Indian entity..... keep it up, your doing a great job of alienating Indian cricket

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    So much for listening to the cricket whilst in the car. Maybe there's an internet radio I can run through my smartphone...

  • Ish on February 15, 2013, 16:28 GMT

    With so many millions in BCCI coffers , one would think radio commentary rights , a media that hardly gets much attention these days would get a kinder treatment from them . But hey,money rules , right ? Crickets is the loser here.

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    How ignorant people can be? Anything happens blame BCCI. The rights for this series are owned by Star group who are part of Fox sports, which in turn is owned by NEWS INTERNATIONAL. The name of Rupert Murdoch rings any bell? Instead of blaming these media companies people who are just ignorant turn all their frustration against BCCI. BCCI is smart enough to understand that it does not have to be charitable to any of these media moghuls. Get a life people? Nobody seems to complain against sky and premier league for the rise of prices and the way they robbing people of their hard earned money week after week. Just because BCCI is from India, it does not have to heed to other countries commands. I am happy that BCCI is standing up against all these boards.

  • Dummy4 on February 15, 2013, 8:02 GMT

    Good on ABC for standing up to the BCCI...When India tours Aussie next slam them back. Let them learn that you reap what you sow. Alas not many Indians would like to listen to their team being SMASHED

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