India news December 12, 2011

BCCI scraps broadcast contract with Nimbus - reports

ESPNcricinfo staff

The BCCI has terminated its contract with Nimbus Communications, the rights holders for cricket in India, ESPNcricinfo understands from reports. The contract, which was to run till 2014, had recently run into issues regarding payments.

"They have defaulted," IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla, who is also a BCCI vice-president, told PTI. "They have not made the 50 percent advance payment for both the England and the West Indies series and the board had no choice but to terminate the deal."

The decision is believed to have been taken at the BCCI's working committee meeting in New Delhi on Monday but there was no customary post-meeting media release till midnight. However, the story received widespread media coverage through the day but Nimbus' Harish Thawani, when contacted by ESPNcricinfo, said: "We have no official word from BCCI regarding the rumour in a section of the media hence will not be issuing any statement today."

On October 14, broadcast of the one-day international between India and England in Hyderabad began only after three overs had already been bowled, as a result of a dispute over the payment of a bank guarantee from Neo Sports, Nimbus' channel, to Prasar Bharati, the government agency responsible for uplinking live telecasts out of India.

More recently, Nimbus had reportedly asked the BCCI for an extension on their payment deadline. The board turned down the request and decided to scrap their deal instead. The board has also claimed Nimbus' Rs 2000-crore (approx. $380 million) bank guarantee as a penalty along with the termination of the contract.

Nimbus, one of India's leading television marketing companies, had been awarded the rights for four years in January 2010, its second consecutive four-year deal with the Indian board. The agreement was valued at approximately Rs 2000 crore (then $436 million) for a minimum of 64 international matches and 312 days of domestic cricket until 2014.

Nimbus also held the broadcasting rights for the previous four years, for which it paid $612 million - subsequently negotiated to $549 million - in February 2006.

While India's domestic international engagements have concluded for the next ten-odd months, its first-class season has just hit its stride and the Ranji Trophy is entering its crucial phase. However, the latest round began with the broadcast of one match on Tuesday morning*.

* (The story was edited on December 13 to reflect the fact that Neo Cricket was broadcasting a Ranji Trophy match)