England in India 2012-13 October 25, 2012

BBC joins Sky in BCCI broadcast wrangle

ESPNcricinfo staff

Sky Sports appears set to provide commentary on England's forthcoming tour of India from its west London headquarters rather than on site after refusing to pay an additional £500,000 demanded by the BCCI to work inside the grounds.

The BBC may also follow suit after being asked to pay an extra fee to allow its Test Match Special radio service access to broadcasting facilities.

On Thursday, the Times newspaper reported that Sky has refused to meet the BCCI's request. It also said that the India board had asked the BBC for an additional £50,000, with TMS commentator Jonathan Agnew later confirming the situation.

"India tour crisis deepens and involves TMS. BBC has rights but like Sky, now charged for commentary boxes - to be allowed in, in other words," Agnew tweeted. "Real danger that TV and radio commentary will all be done from home, rather than India (if we do it at all)."

Negotiations with Sky have been taking place for more than a week after a last-minute move by the BCCI to charge what it labelled "realistic costs" for use of facilities. Sky felt it had already paid this as part of its rights package, with no other governing body making such extra financial demands of broadcasters.

In response, the BCCI has maintained its stance over asking Sky to pay for the additional costs that will have to be incurred.

A BCCI official, preferring anonymity, said: "It is not as if they have only asked for a commentary box. They have demanded a full control room, just like the one that our host broadcaster has at every venue. If you have to create an additional space of 2000 sq ft, fully air-conditioned, it will bear a lot of cost. And neither the BCCI nor any of our affiliated units who would be hosting the match would bear the additional cost."

If Sky do not send their team, which includes former England captains Mike Atherton, Nasser Hussain and Ian Botham, it will be the first time in 20 years that an England Test series overseas will not have British TV commentary from within the venues.

Instead Sky will take the pictures supplied by Star TV, the host broadcaster, but will use its own commentary team, who will be based in Isleworth. It is understood that Star's commentary will also be available via the red-button option.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ajith on October 28, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    The comments are pretty hilarious, really. From both sides. I was wondering though, when these business hotshots sign a deal, did they actually check what they are getting? Or did they think that they can just get their way, either way? One has to wonder. I am pretty sure this did not happen overnight.

  • Bhaskar on October 26, 2012, 19:21 GMT

    @ Capt. Meanster - You are right, the Sky commentators have far less experienced than Star commentators, they all combined cannot match Sunil Gavaskar's alone. Only illiterates think otherwise.

  • Srinivas on October 26, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    If Sky indeed demanded a whole separate control unit just like the host broadcaster rather than just a commentary box, then BCCI has a legitimate complaint. They shouldn't expect freebies for their ludicrous demands.

  • Charlie on October 26, 2012, 13:02 GMT

    There seem to be 3 relevant questions here: 1) Did the ECB make a similar charge to Star when India toured England in 2011? 2) Did BCCI make a similar charge to Sky / BBC when England last toured India in 2006 and 2008? Did BCCI make a similar charge to the New Zealand broadcaster during their recent Indian tour? If the answer to these is 'no', then I'd say that Sky / BBC have a legitimate complaint and should not be held to ransom like this by BCCI. The real shame re: commentary is it will mean there won't be an opportunity for there to be any crossover between the English and India commentary teams, which I always think is valuable, with the Star commentators working from the venues, and the Sky commentators working from London, so the result of that will probably be a more biased commentary experience for the viewer than ever before whether they are watching Star or Sky.

  • chandru on October 26, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Both SKY and STAR TV are owned by the same owner, you know who :). Sorry, what is the problem??

  • Christopher on October 26, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    Darpan Chandaliya - It's something that Sky offers occasionally with live sporting events that allows you to press a button on your remote and watch a different match or the same match from a different angle or, in this case, a different commentary team. We're pro-choice over here pal!

  • Dummy4 on October 26, 2012, 9:18 GMT

    It doesn't matter to me where the commentators are based. I just wanna watch cricket. BCCI have forced Sky into a win/win scenario. They won't pay the £500k and they'll save money on sending a broadcasting team to India. Sky bosses must be rubbing their hands together.

  • Mark on October 26, 2012, 9:07 GMT

    @fguy, I think that you are missing the point. BBC Radio requires very little in the way of special facilities and is still being asked to stump up 50000GBP for access to a commentary box. Can you imagine the chaos at Lords if you have to present your credit card at the entrance to the media centre to be allowed in? Maybe the BCCI is cash-strapped and cannot afford more than an absolute minimum of broadcast facilities, which is fair enough, but even the BCB, which is one of the poorest in the world, were proud to host the TMS team at their grounds and supplied excellent guest commentators to boot!

  • Dummy4 on October 26, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    The Basic Question is WHAT IS RED BUTTON OPTION...

  • Bored on October 26, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    Lets get one thing clear here. BCCI holds PRODUCTION rights. STAR, SKY hold BROADCASTING rights. SKY has the right to BROADCAST the feed that the BCCI, as producers, is providing. SKY basically wants a small chunk of the PRODUCTION control, which is why the BCCI is charging a whole lot more (much too much, if u ask me). but ya, a simple solution would be: Star, on loan from Sky, get Gower, Holding & Lloyd on board with Bhogle, Manjrekar and Gavaskar. (Throw out Shastri Hussain and Siva!) Problem solved. :-P

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