BBC joins Sky in BCCI broadcast wrangle
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.